My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow, this is an amazing book. I’d been disappointed that I hadn’t come across anything this year that really wowed me. That isn’t true any longer.
I found the framework of the book quite creative– a teenage boy listening to a series of audiotapes left by a female friend that committed suicide. She tells her story, and asks that the tapes be passed along to all those that played a role in what lead up to her decision.
Hannah’s story was sad, her reaction to it even more so. She describes a series of events. Each, taken on it’s own, was something she could deal with. Added together, she felt cut off from any hope or connection in her life.
Clay is a genuinely good guy. Not perfect, but overall, a good guy. As he listens, and puts together the pieces, he is horrified by the effects of seemingly small actions by his peers, as well as some truly horrible larger actions. He struggles with his roll, as he only wanted to get to know her, to possibly be more than friends.
I thought that the book showed the impact that even small actions can have. I really felt for both Hannah and Clay. Talking to others, I’ve heard split opinions– some found it as compelling as I did. Others did not. Beyond the obvious fact that not everyone perceives each book the same, I have two thoughts.
First, it’s quite true that not everyone would take the same path as Hannah, given these events. If you are a person that doesn’t have a tendency to depression, who would be able to pull yourself through these events (or believe you would), the story may not resonate.
Second, I really think the audio production added to my appreciation. There were separate narrators for Clay’s narration and Hannah’s tapes, and both were excellent. The audio production is incredible, and if you are considering listening to this book, I’d strongly recommend it.
I would suggest a private spot for reading it, particularly the second half. I rarely react outwardly to books, but I think I may have started some gossip about myself at my daughter’s school, because this book had me in tears.