You can see which books are beloved by going to Elana’s page HERE—it contains the links to everyone’s choices. It’s like one giant list of recommended reads. Be sure to check it out.
Which author did I pick? I chose Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why.
I read a lot of books and there were hundreds of great books so why did I pick this one? Because I believe it’s an incredibly important one. Be forewarned, this book is an intense, emotional read that left me hopeful and bereaved all at once. Let me tell you a bit more about it. Here’s the synopsis:
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.One of the most unique aspects of this story is the dual narrative, Hannah’s voice and Clay’s thoughts. At times, I felt almost voyeuristic as Hannah shared her story—her most intimate thoughts and personal experiences laid bare on the page—but the beauty is how we get a first gut reaction from Clay. Hannah’s voice literally speaks from the grave yet she and Clay are trapped in a suspended breath of time and we, the readers, are hostage to the tale. I was so immersed in the experience, it was easy to forget that I was reading and not listening along.
Having been both a Clay and an almost-Hannah in my life, the words, actions, and emotional depth of this book rings starkly true. There was a particular scene where Clay sits in the passenger seat of a car, trapped by Hannah’s voice, that brought to life the helplessness and horror of the situation. But the author doesn’t just drag us through a nightmare, the story emerges into morning and we’re left with a fragile kind of dawning.
I loved this book because it wasn’t afraid to shy away from a topic that is sometimes considered taboo; Suicide. When asked if he worried that this book would be too hard for people to get through because of the issues, Jay said:
Definitely… Some people, primarily adults, would rather there be no books dealing with controversial subjects, even if those books help start a dialogue between teens and adults. Thankfully, I’ve heard from a lot of parents and teachers and librarians who are using this book for that very reason.If I could, I would give Jay Asher a real hug for this book. He did an excellent job of portraying the honest emotions of a person considering suicide and the people who are left behind. The story itself is a medium for prevention but the author also provided help and resources for anyone in need of it.
One of my favorite things was the 13 questions Jay Asher answers at the end of the book, a mini-interview of sorts. He shares his inspiration for the story, its inception, and the response he’s received about Thirteen Reasons Why. He said:
One of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed because of this book is hearing from teens who recognized some of Hannah’s feelings as their own. They also recognized the mistakes Hannah made in not fully reaching out for help (she simply hinted at her problems). So they then took it upon themselves to get the help Hannah never received, which has been extremely inspiring to me.This book is intense—there’s no denying that—but it’s transforming and beautiful too. After reading it, I’m more determined to be a better person, a more aware person, and I thank the author for it.
You can learn about all kinds of books from varying genres and topics at Elana’s Recommended Reads, HERE. Check out which author is being hugged next at Marcie’s BLOG. You can learn more about Jay Asher at HIS BLOG and more about Thirteen Reasons Why, HERE.
Until next time,
p.s. If you or a loved one struggles with thoughts of suicide, or if you just need someone to talk to, you can go to www.hopeline.com or call 1-800-SUICIDE. People are there for you 24/7.