screenshot147 In one word, Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reason’s Why is mesmerizing.

From the publisher’s summary: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

Imagine that a moment. You hear the voice of a dead girl telling you that there are thirteen reasons she chose to end her life, and you factor into that story. It’s almost unfathomable how that could make you feel. But at the same time, it’s such an interesting hook. It sucks you in immediately. Because you’re a good person, right? You think back over every encounter you had with this person, and you can’t think of anything that you did that was so bad, so what was it? You have to know.

The thing Asher does so well with this book is show us how our actions, no matter how innocuous we think they are, may impact people in ways we don’t intend.  He also shows us how much we don’t notice, the subtle ways people may be shouting for help that we – for any number of reasons, some good and some not so good- just don’t see.

Reading Thirteen Reasons Why makes me want to be a better person. To ask, “How are you?” and actually LISTEN to the answer.  To offer a smile to strangers. To think twice about my choice of words in certain situations.  Yes, the book is YA. But we were all teenagers once, and depression isn’t limited to teenagers.

Asher delivers a page-turning, compelling read that really has you hoping for a different outcome.  It’s tragic, yes, but also enlightening and ultimately hopeful, as we see a chance for redemption.  Read this one.