This is one of those books that I first heard about from a student. And then another. And then another. I bought my copy and sat down to see what the fuss was all about. After all, it's a book about suicide, but was being discussed with enthusiasm and excitement, emotions that are hardly associated with such a sensitive issue. But after hearing the same reviews from colleagues, I knew I didn't want to wait any longer.
This is the story about a boy, Clay, who has a package arrive at his house and opens it to find seven tapes. Upon finding a place to listen to them, he discovers that the voice is recognizable - it is the voice of a classmate, Hannah, who killed herself several weeks earlier. She is explaining that if the tapes arrived at the listener's house, it is because he had something to do with her decision. The rest of the book is a mixture of Hannah's voice on the tapes and Clay's journey with her to the places that were significant. He has his memories mixed with hers, shares many of her opinions and learns things about his classmates that changes his viewpoint of them.
Suicide is undeniably one of the most sensitive issues to base a book on. I really did have many doubts about this book, but after reading, I can say in all honesty that is truly depicts the conflicts in quite possibly one of the most socially challenging times - high school, and helps the readers understand what kind of an impact one person can have on another. Since I got copies of this book in my room, I could not keep them there for long. Some may have hesitations that this would encourage suicide or depict it in a positive light, but that's not it at all. This book would open all kinds of discussion between parents and kids, has depth and is written beautifully.