Friday, February 22, 2008

Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay Asher's book has gotten a lot of buzz, and for good reason. It is a mesmerizing look at the reasons a teenage girl has committed suicide, told in a chilling series of tapes that she has left for the people she deems responsible. The boy who is listening to them was less culpable than the others, who heaped abuse on the girl in a variety of ways, from rumor mongering to a nongraphic but disturbing sexual encounters. For that reason, it is NOT a middle school book, although there may be some 8th graders who want to read it.

This is a hard book to describe, because I don't want to ruin the delicately balanced plot. Each page is just wrenching, especially since the boy was very fond of the girl but never got to know her. I would think most high school collections would want this.

It was hard to read because the tape was interspersed with the thoughts of the boy, so there was a ping pong effect. Also, I wish there had been more in the book about suicide prevention. There are lots of bad choices, but that they ended in suicide (while realistic), was a poor reflection on our society.

I'm going home now-- it's a snow day that wasn't called until I'd been at work half an hour!

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