Tag Archives: Teen Issues

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why (audio)

Thirteen Reasons Why (Audio)

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.

Source: Borrowed
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Review: Before I Fall

Before I Fall

Before I Fall
By Lauren Oliver
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780061726804, March 2010, 480pp.)

The Short of It:

Absolutely riveting, from beginning to end.

The Rest of It:

After dying in a car accident, Samantha Kingston is forced to relive her last day a total of seven times. As repetitive as this sounds, each day is slightly different, and with her being a popular high school student, there are lots of choices to make. Some good, some bad and some with horrible consequences.

Realizing that I would be taken through her last day over and over again, I worried that it would be a bit like that movie Groundhog Day, where the main character was forced to repeat his day again and again (I really didn’t like that movie), but Oliver manages to keep it interesting. I could not put it down and sped through it in just a couple of sittings.

Samantha is a popular girl and runs with a fast crowd. There is a lot of drinking, and sex is THE big topic of discussion, but if you are able to put that aside, you’ll see Before I Fall for what it is, an absolutely riveting read about living life to its fullest.

Would I let my daughter read it? The Girl is only seven, but if she were thirteen or fourteen, I’d have no problem with her reading it. It brings up issues that teens face every day: underage drinking, sex, eating disorders, popularity and being different. I don’t think it hurts for young girls to think about these things. In fact, I think it helps them make better decisions in the long run. I think male readers would find value in reading it as well.

That said, once you start this book you will not be able to put it down and although it’s certainly geared towards young adults, older readers will find it just as readable. Highly recommend.

Source: Borrowed

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