I originally got this book to use as a read aloud for my classroom. Let’s just say, I’m glad I changed my mind.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. It tells the story of Hannah Baker, a high school junior who has recently committed suicide. Before she died, she recorded nine cassette tapes worth of her story that explained to thirteen people how they played a part in her death. The reader gets to listen in on her tapes as a boy who had a crush on her, Clay, plays the tapes for the first time.
Sometimes the book is hard to follow because Hannah’s voice and Jay’s story are so melded together. It would have been impossible to do as a read aloud because the only distinction between the two stories is some italics that mark Hannah’s voice. This would only be possible as a read aloud if you actually had an audio recording that changed between male and female voices. Switching back and forth between the two characters takes a little getting used to, but once the reader finds the rhythm, it helps tell the story in a powerful way.
Schools are using Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher to talk about bullying and suicide and I can see why. This book, geared more toward high schoolers than middle level kids, touches on so many aspects of high school life and the consequences of students’ everyday choices. This book will strike a nerve with readers and hopefully make us all more aware of how we interact with others.
Thirteen Reasons Why would make a great book club selection for high school students. Or as a great English class selection because of the topics it addresses. Have you read it? What did you think?