This novel is beautiful, tragic, entertaining, dramatic, and intense all at the same time. Though this book is not as intellectual like The Chosen, Asher does an excellent job connecting with the audience through the use of a unique perspective and relatable subject matter that we, teenagers, are often faced with.
The story revolves around the suicide notes left behind by Hannah Baker. Before Hannah decided to commit suicide, she thinks of an elaborate plan of recording messages onto cassette tapes as to why she committed suicide, and she made sure the box of tapes were passed around to the people “on the list.” In each tape, Hannah explains as to why they negatively impacted her life, and after they are done listening to all of them, they are forced to pass it along to the next on the list. In total there are thirteen tapes.
The story focuses on one particular person on the list named Clay. With Clay narrating the story, the reader discovers that he had feelings for Hannah and that he is clueless of what he could’ve done to cause Hannah to think that her life was worth ending. Sitting at the edge our seats, both the reader and Clay are involved in a mystery/journey to find out the reasons why to Hannah’s suicide. I think that Asher does an excellent job involving the reader’s emotion to the characters at hand. He evokes such strong emotions by using a unique perspective. While Clay narrates his own thoughts and feelings, the majority of the book is “listening” to the tapes that Hannah made. Having both the perspective of the listener (Clay) and Hannah’s thoughts behind events in her life makes this story all the more powerful. For instance, when Hannah’s tapes are playing, they are written in italics, and sometimes, between the lines, Clay’s thoughts will be integrated within the text. For instance, when Hannah starts off cassette one and says:
“If you’re listening to this… You’re someone else and you’re waiting to see if it’s you.
A line of hot sweat rises along my hairline.
“Alex Standall, it’s your turn.”
A single bead of what slides down my temple and I wipe it away (Asher 37).
This back and forth between Hannah’s story and Clay’s thoughts helps involve the reader more from both sides of the story. This adds to the novel’s personality and the amount of emotions it evokes out of the audience.
Not only was this book creatively written, but the relatable subject matter of the storyline is something that makes this story interesting. Even though the ending is predictable knowing that unfortunately it will end with Hannah’s death, what the characters will take away from this heartbreaking story is what I look forward to knowing. Already this book has given me this entire new perspective and awareness about others. Through the stories that Hannah tells she is clearly bullied, tossed around, gossiped about, and left out, and to realize how powerful your voice can be is truly startling. Though I have always been aware of other people’s feelings and how my words can make other people feel, this story overall underlines the importance and power of one’s words. And sure, I’ve been there too, bullied and pushed around, and I really appreciate the fact that this novel gives an opportunity for other people to become more aware about how their words can make someone feel.