Thirteen Reasons Why (audio)
By Jay Asher
Read by: Debra Wiseman and Joel Johnstone
(Listening Library (Audio), Compact Disc, October 2007, 9780739356500)
The Short of It:
An absolutely riveting, cannot-turn-off story about a young girl explaining why she decided to take her life.
The Rest Of It:
Clay Jensen comes home from school and finds a package waiting for him. Inside the box, is a set of cassette tapes made by one of his classmates and crushes…Hannah Baker. The only problem is that Hannah killed herself just two weeks prior. These tapes are her thirteen reasons why.
This is a wonderful book. I originally chose it for The Boy but when he told me how much he was enjoying it, I made a mental note to read it myself. Luckily for me, the audio was available so I snatched it up.
Hannah’s story is just heartbreaking. Here is a girl, who is pretty, popular and living in a supportive home, yet she falls between the cracks and slowly begins to lose herself. She is not bullied in a traditional sense, but she is the subject of rumors and those rumors lead to abuse of a different kind. On her way to invisibility, she reaches out for help (numerous times) but her cries for help fall on deaf ears.
The cassette tapes that she’s left behind are to be shared with the thirteen people responsible for her collapse. The story alternates between Hannah’s voice, and Clay’s, who doesn’t understand why he is included in this group, until he listens to his section of the tape. This method of sharing her story often brought tears to my eyes, because as a reader, you know there is no daring rescue at the end. You know the outcome and all you can do is sit there, shaking your head, wondering how many young kids are out there today, thinking the same thing.
The readers for this novel are amazing. Debra Wiseman plays Hannah perfectly. The pain, the angst and the frustration all come through beautifully in her reading. Johnstone also does an excellent job portraying Clay. He has this wide-eyed, sensibility that makes you like him even more. Innocent, but not stupid. Very touching at times.
On that note, I want to share this video with you. It has nothing to do with this book, but I came across it while reading the book and it brought me to tears. My son was a student ambassador for his middle school, and when he was, I always reminded him that a kind word, said to a troubled kid, could be the difference between life and death. Plus, it includes the awesome singing group, Ahmir. I adore them. Please watch it. Such an important message.
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