One afternoon Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a package waiting for him. Inside the box are audio cassette tapes, numbered but unlabeled. When Clay curiously pops the first tape into a machine he is disconcerted to hear the voice of Hannah Baker, a fellow student who committed suicide almost two weeks before. "I hope you're ready, because I'm about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why." Clay barely knew Hannah. How could he possibly be responsible for her death? Yet he is driven to hear Hannah's story, however painful it may be.
This is not a book to love, but it is certainly compelling. Some readers may think Hannah over-dramatic and too sensitive, but her voice rings true. In over thirty years of teaching I have lost several students to suicide, and for most there was no single "smoking gun" but rather a gradual accumulation of small hurts that weighed heavy on them until the load became too much to bear. Asher's tale is heartbreaking, but readers will come away with hope that, while it is too late for Hannah, Clay will make a difference for others. 288 pages Ages 14 and up
Recommended by Terri L. Street, School Librarian, Oklahoma