Synopsis: You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package 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. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever
My review: The last time someone insisted I must read a book that everyone was talking about it turned out to be 50 Shades and nearly put me off other people’s recommendations for life! Thankfully this redeems my friends tastes in novels.
I read this in one London to Leeds train journey on my way home from work (approx. 2.5 hours including a tree on the line). It’s mesmerising and very difficult to stop reading. Some of that is the format. As with a diary style book you think ‘ooh just one more entry/cassette side’ before I do anything. Next thing the books over and you’re home.
I’ve been in Hannah’s shoes back in the distant days when I was 21 when comments by people that they may have felt were innocent enough or nothing to get upset about snowball into something huge where you’re left feeling like there’s nowhere to turn and no other options. I found a way out but it took 15 years of yo-yo depression before someone had the knowledge to show me how to get better. For Hannah that isn’t here.
She also feels guilty for her own actions where she feels that had she done Y instead of X certain incidents wouldn’t have happened. Oh the power of hindsight and foresight. So there’s a message there for thinking about our actions before we do and speak as we never know just how it will affect others.
BUT it’s not a book about blaming everyone but herself. It highlights people’s lack of knowledge in mental health and how we need to talk more and bring it out in the one. It shouldn’t be the last taboo. The 13th person on the tapes is the school guidance counsellor, a man completely out of his depth when faced with depression. He asks the one question you never should ask – a version of what’s the problem/why are you sad. We don’t know – that’s why we break. When I had my 2nd breakdown and the one where I finally got the correct support I was asked this by so many people. It’s so difficult to articulate and I probably still struggle. The other one is ‘oh but you seemed ok’. Did I?
Just a query – what training do Guidance Counsellors have in mental health issues and so on? As an English woman who’s only real experience with theis is watching Buffy blunder her way through I wonder what training they have compared to a therapist/counsellor. Genuine question there
There’s a small section where the teenagers are given a list of ways to potentially spot someone struggling with mental health issues. I would have liked to have seen the full list put in the book plus some links to websites (maybe further editions do this?) Such a difficult subject should follow with signposting I think.
But that’s my small quibble. This book and the TV show (which I will watch) is getting people talking and that can only be a good thing.
Free netgalley ARC and the book/series are both available now