Clay Jensen comes home on a completely ordinary and normal day to find a box of cassette tapes addressed to him on his porch. He finds that the cassette tapes were made by the one and only Hannah Baker, who had killed herself recently. There were thirteen sides of tapes to listen to. Thirteen reasons why she did it. And Clay was one of them.
We follow Clay as he listens to them, and puts everything together as he learns, tape by tape, all the reasons that led up to Hannah killing herself. The book happens over the course of one day, and it's a book that is guaranteed to make you think, and maybe even change.
Cast of Characters:
The one and only creator of the tapes, Hannah Baker was a typical teenager, who only wanted to lead a normal, happy life, with a bit of romance sprinkled in here and there. Instead, she got rumors. Rumors about her and her reputation. She recorded these tapes the day before she took a handful of pills and her life ended. She mailed the tapes to the first person on her list, leaving instructions to listen, and to pass it on to the next person. She also made a back up plan, where she mailed the tapes to a guy named Tony, so, that if anyone decided to ignore the tapes or not mail it on to the next person, he could put it out in public. She also gave a map to each person on the list, with red stars on where to go based off of her story.
Clay is a normal guy. He did not expect those tapes. When he got them, he went through a lot of pain. He was struggling with every word he heard from the headphones of the Walkman he stole from Tony. He lies to his mom about what he's doing. "School project." That's his go to excuse. His excuse for wandering around town late at night, wondering what he did wrong, what he did to be on these tapes. When he gets to his tape, it feels like a punch in the stomach. He feels terrible, realizing how much he had not done. How many opportunities to save Hannah had come, but he didn't know it. Clay gets through the night, eventually, and, as the instructions say, mails them on to the next person in the morning. The tapes had changed him, made him realize that, for some people, everything is a struggle, and sometimes it gets to be too much and they just want their life to end. Clay was one of my favorite characters, because he truly did nothing wrong, he just didn't know the side of Hannah Baker no one knew.
Justin is the first on Hannah's list. She devotes two sides of the tape to him. He was her first real crush, and her first kiss. He started rumors about her, which didn't portray her as the innocent girl she was. Everyone believed those rumors, since she was the new girl, and none of them knew her at all. Besides Justin, of course.
Alex Standall was a new kid in town, just like Hannah. Hannah, Alex, and another girl named Jessica got together a lot during the summer, at a cafe. When school started, they were nice to each other, but they kinda drifted out of the friendship. Alex was, supposedly, one of the reasons why Hannah killed herself. She basically said that if it wasn't for him, none of the things that happened after that would have happened and she would still be okay.
I mentioned Jessica in the last description. Jessica was also new to town, and when she went to tour the school at the beginning of summer, she unexpectedly met Hannah, and from then on, Hannah and her went to the cafe frequently. Later, once school starts, Jessica asks Hannah to meet her at the cafe. They hadn't done this for a while, and this time Alex wasn't there. Jessica was mad at Hannah for supposedly "Stealing her man" (Who was Alex) Hannah denies it, and it's true. Jessica's so angry that she hits Hannah, embedding her fingernail into her forehead, where she had a scar the rest of her life.
Hannah accuses Tyler of many things, but we don't totally know if they're all true. She has no real evidence. Clay believes what Hannah says, but most readers are not so sure. Hannah blames Tyler for taking away the safety of living in her own house.
Courtney is the sweet, pretty girl at the high school. She's nice to everyone, and everyone is nice to her. Hannah knows that Courtney isn't the person most people think she is. She pretends to like Hannah, but only so when she needs a ride to a party, or some other place. She also makes up rumors about Hannah, and this contributes to Hannah's beliefs that no one is trustworthy.
Marcus tricked Hannah. He asked her out on a date, and she waited there for thirty minutes, and he still wasn't there. He came a while after that and apologized for making her wait because "He didn't know if she really would come." it didn't end very well, to say the least. He left her, crying, alone in a booth at the burger joint they were at.
Zach was nice to Hannah at first. When Marcus left Hannah, he tried to comfort her, but she wouldn't have it. Let me explain something before I go on, so it will make sense. In one of the classes at school, their teachers let kids write notes to other kids giving positive comments or encouragement. What Zach did was terrible. In the time she needed those compliments the most, he stole her notes. She just figured that no one wanted to tell her anything. But then she saw Zach steal her notes.
Ryan was a true teen poet. Just like Hannah. She went to the library to a poetry club that was supposed to be happy, but it was actually pretty depressing. He ended up being there, on the library steps as she left one day. They looked at each others notebooks full of poems, and eventually they gave each other the notebooks so they could each look through the whole thing. Well, that turned out to be a mistake on Hannah's part. Ryan published one of her poems in the school newspaper. And, though he didn't use her name, Hannah was really upset. Everyone thought the person who wrote the poem just wanted attention, and that made Hannah feel even worse.
Jenny was a nice cheerleader who was Hannah's friend. Hannah was getting a ride home from Jenny one time, and Jenny ran into a stop sign, which was bent over so drivers couldn't see it. She refused to call the police, so Hannah got out and walked home. Later that night, there is a car crash at the site. Hannah blames Jenny, since she wouldn't call the police, because she thinks that the reason the car crash happened was because the stop sign was knocked over.
Bryce is a terrible person. He abused a lot of people. He bullies almost everyone into doing the stuff he wants. He hurt Hannah, and she even let him hurt her once. She was giving up.
Mr. Porter was Hannah's guidance counselor. She tried to talk to him, but he didn't help. She told herself that if he did something about it, than she would hope that life would get better. Instead, he did nothing, and she decided it officially: She was going to kill herself.
The mood of this book was a mix of depression, misery, and a little bit of hope. Even though it might not seem like a good read if you're struggling with depression, I think it is. It makes you realize how fragile people can be, and that not everything, even though it may seem like it, is worth getting depressed over. Before you assume they're trying to hurt you, find evidence. Don't just automatically think everyone is out to get you.
The tone of this book was a bit dark, and at some points, upsetting. If you have struggled with depression, you might be able to relate to some of the things that Hannah feels. This book may help you realize how lucky you are compared to Hannah Baker.
The book ends with a not of positive, as if Clay wants to help. I think that Clay wanted to help April so nothing like what Hannah experienced would ever happen to her.
Overall, I think this was a very good book, and I would recommend it.