I doubt I have read anything more soul wrenching in my all years of reading. Now I'm sure somewhere in time and space, I have chanced upon something just as gut twisting but this story broke my heart.
Hannah Baker records the defining moments of the past few years of her life onto seven audiotapes. Thirteen stories involving several people at her school. She packs the tapes into a shoebox and mails them to the first person on the list. Then, she goes home to kill herself.
Two weeks later, Clay Jensen comes home from school to find a box with no return address leaning against his front door. Inside are seven audiotapes, their sides labeled 1 through 13 in blue nail polish. He has no idea what’s on the tapes, which is kind of exciting…until he presses PLAY.
With Hannah’s voice as his narrator, Clay spends the rest of the night wandering through town, visiting places mentioned on the tapes, unearthing the thirteen reasons why Hannah chose to kill herself. And one reason belongs to him...
The worst part of the whole story is, and this might be considered a spoiler to some, there was not a single good reason she should have taken her life. It was essentially a snowball effect in which one rumor started the spiral of her high school life down and down and down until there was no light left for her to find the way back.
For someone who has had numerous rumors about her told and spread like a horribly infectious virus, I literally had to hold back my tears because I know exactly where Hannah came from and all the miserable things she felt. The other day, a group of friends and I went to lunch. This one boy whom I've known since kindergarten and had played at his house all through elementary school informed me that when I transferred schools my freshman year of high school, the rumor started that I had left because I had been through every boy there and needed new ones.
Up until I transferred, I had only had one boyfriend for about a month the previous year. Sure there were kids I had crushes on and girl friends who I discussed these little puppy love fantasies with but how in the world could people possibly have called me a whore and a slut so early on?
Understandably now, if they call me those names, I no longer flinch because I suppose I have given some reason in a small way. I'm not saying I've slept with all the guys in the tri-county area but yes, I have had more boyfriends than I can count on one hand, possibly two depending on your definition of a boyfriend and a relationship. But in high school, why should this stuff matter so much?
I'll tell you this. It shouldn't. It does but it should not. So many boys and girls grow up damaged and scarred forever because of the trauma they are forced to experience every single day of high school. I've been gone from that school for essentially two years and I can still go to a bathroom and see my name scrawled on the stall, calling me a whore or a slut or a tramp. I try not to let it bother me as it once did and it helps that I've somehow managed to attract some pretty awesome people as friends.
Still, after reading this book, I guess the reason it affected me so much was because I reached out and took a second chance. Hannah just waited and waited for someone to come and offer her one. It was kind of like reading about if I had just changed that one night.
I highly recommend it, even if you aren't a silly emotional girl.