My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I would like to start this with a trigger warning because this book covers some sensitive topics. There is the discussion throughout of rape, depression, suicide, anxiety, bullying and other topics that may be harmful to readers. Although I feel it is beautifully approached, I would definitely approach this book with caution if you feel that it may trigger you. I would never want anyone to go into a book uninformed and be harmed by it.
The story was told through dual perspectives which I think really enhanced the impact that this book had. Clay receives the tapes that Hannah has recorded, detailing the people and events that have led to her decision. What she believes to be the tale and connections that made her fall further and further. We hear each story and the heart-wrenching impact another person’s actions have on Hannah’s psyche, whether they mean the harm or not. Everything affects everything. One seemingly innocent, yet mischievous action, can snowball into a very harmful situation.
As the reader, we experience the story through Clay’s eyes and follow the emotional journey with him. We despair for Hannah as the events take place, grow to care for her and see how the smallest action might create a larger impact. Clay’s emotions mirror our own, frustration, horror, despair, outrage, and acceptance. We take the journey and grow along with him, learn to be better people and hopefully make a change.
I feel that beyond the trigger warning, it is best to go into the story without preconceived notions and allow it to have its full impact. So many people have connected to this book over the years and for good reason. It is a fantastically powerful story and I would recommend it.
As an additional note, the Netflix series based on this book is a very faithful recreation of the story. Some minor details may be changed, like a character’s name or the order of one of the stories – but overall it follows the book fairly closely. Some of the more major changes were done for dramatic effects, like extending the amount of time that Clay listens to the tapes, allowing them to add more story to the present day tale. I reiterate my trigger warning and believe that it is even stronger for the show, but would still recommend both mediums of the tale. I don’t believe there is a particular order that you need to or should read versus watch them in.