Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Surprise Gift for YOU!

Do you like surprises? Let's imagine you receive a surprise. You come home one day and there it is, a package the size of a shoe box waiting for you. Don't you just love getting real mail every once in a while? And yep, it is definitely for YOU. Your name and address are right there scribbled under the canceled stamps. If it were me, I'd immediately assume it was from my mother. She sends me packages every now and then. What are thinking? Is it from a best friend? An aunt or uncle? The strange guy at work who keeps asking you out regardless how many times you say no? Why won't he just get the hint! Or maybe...maybe it's from someone you don't officially know yet. It could be from anybody.

Now, let's go back in time a bit. Instead of you being the current you, you are the old you, the you that you were way back in high school. Let's say, perhaps 16 or 17. This package with your name on it is just sitting on your doorstep waiting for you to open it. And the kicker is, there is no return address. Hmmm...quite a mystery. Now, don't worry. I know that all of you reading this were super great people at that age. Right? You never picked on the “band nerds” or told that girl with acne problems that she had more craters than the moon. Right? You never flirted with someone until they fell for you and then dropped them like a hot potato. Right? And you certainly never laughed at that nice boy who sat behind you in math class, the one who stuttered when he got nervous. Right? And if you did those things, let's pretend you didn't. Okay? You are a nice person so don't be afraid that inside this box is a bottle with homemade explosives waiting to burst in your face. You don't need to worry.

Now, let's open it up and see what's inside (rip, snip, open the lid). Aaah, how interesting! Wrapped in some packaging paper are a few audio tapes. No. Not Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. These are the ones you buy and record things on yourself. There are several of them, all marked with red numbers. It looks sort of like the red was done with...could it be...nail polish? Each side has a number. The first cassette begins with the number 1 on side A and 2 on side B and they continue in sequence up to the last tape which has a 13 on one side and no marking on the backside. Thirteen parts. Thirteen sides to listen to.

This actually happened. Not to me but to Clay Jensen. Clay is a nice guy, just like you. Clay is curious, just as you might be, so he pops in the first tape and what does he hear? He hears her voice, the voice of Hannah Baker. Hannah, his school crush, is speaking to him. The only problem is that Hannah committed suicide two weeks ago. He's still pretty distraught about it, and now her voice is speaking, like a ghost slipping out of the speakers and into ears. Sort of eery, dontcha think? Especially when he listens to her says something like "There are thirteen reasons why I killed myself and if you are receiving these tapes, then you are one of those reasons."

(gulp) Me? What did I do? Say it isn't so!!!

That is the storyline of the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I bought this book, because I noticed it won many awards. To see a list of the those awards, click here. It is actually listed as a book for teens/young adults, but I read it anyway. Yeah...I read children's literature. So what...go ahead and laugh. I don't care. I like to read books first before recommending them to my daughter. She will turn 13 this summer, and though I think this is a book every teenager should read, I think she is a bit young for it now. I will keep it on my shelf until she is a bit older. Adults might also benefit from reading it, because it list many signs to look for in troubled teens, signs that might help you prevent a child from taking his or her life.

I enjoyed this book very much and do you want to know something else? I cried when I read it. (Yeah...go ahead and call me a softy. But I tell you this: go read other people's reviews and they will say the same thing. Bit of a tear-jerker.) Even though this is/was Asher's first book (I''m not sure if he has any other books out yet, guess I should have done my research before posting), he did a wonderful job of developing his characters. As I read the story, many of them reminded me of teenagers I knew growing up. The personalities and situations presented were so true to life. The plot is presented in what we might call dueling dialogue, flip-flopping between Hannah and Clay throughout, yet allowing you to get to know the other characters in the process. By the time you've reached the end, you will know the all the reasons why Hannah decided to take her own life. It might make you sit and think about someone who did the same thing. It might make you question the way you interact with those around you. It might make you feel anger or sadness or disbelief. A few online reviews I read came from teenagers saying they still didn't know why Hannah did it, that she made a mountain out of a molehill. Personally, I think they missed the whole point of the book. Regardless of whether or not one "gets it" it is still a page-turner. It keeps you guessing what will come next.

If you want to here the author himself speak about writing the book, there is a nice audio clip of him at his website here. It is listed under the title "Listen to two of Jay's friends interview him about his book". I would post a link here but, to be honest, I couldn't figure it out. 

If you have a teenager (or even if you don't) you might want to visit your local bookstore or public library and pick up a copy of this book. You won't be disappointed. If you want to order one through Amazon, click here.

That's my T post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. T is for thirteen.

Do you ever read literature written for a younger audience? If so, what might you recommend for a 13-year old girl? Since our local bookstores only have a limited number of English books, we usually have them order specific titles for us. Any ideas are appreciated.


Nikki said...

Wow...what an interesting read!

Linda H. said...

Well, I thought the book was an interesting read, so it was easy to write this post.

Josh Hoyt said...

Sounds very interesting. I enjoy books like Fablehaven and read them with my kids.

Halli Gomez said...

Thanks for that review. The book sounds very interesting and I definitely want to read it!
I also read children's literature. Usually for younger than 13 years old, but I will keep my eyes out for good stuff for you.

Jennifer Hillier said...

Love the premise of this book. Great review.

I read some YA but honestly, not much, and nothing for an audience younger than 13. Wish I could help!

Hanna La Kiw said...

I like your description of the feeling when you wait for a package. And since there is the possibility of "tracking your package" it got worse. One day I found myself spending the whole day in front of the window waiting for the delivery service - because I knew my package was in town. With reference to your question. Langenscheid published a series: http://www.amazon.de/exec/obidos/ASIN/3468204310/ego4u-21
Best Hanna

junebug said...

Intriguing premise. I enjoy reading some teen books. It reminds me of simpler time and sometimes I just want life to be more simple.

nutschell said...

ive heard a lot of good things about this book! I've been meaning to check it out.:)

M Pax said...

Wow, sounds like a dramatic plot. I'd be excited if there were shoes in the box. My cats, too. They love shoeboxes. I'm waiting on my eyeliner right now. Please, postal carrier! Today!

Sylvia Ney said...

Whoa...goosebumps. Sounds good! I posted about a German Xylographer today. Have you ever heard of him?

Linda H. said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. And thanks for the link, Hanna. We have read several of the "double language" books, but I hadn't seen all these titles before.

Hope you got your eyeliner, M Pax.

Sylvia, no. I hadn't heard of him. Maybe I'll get there some day.