Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thirteen Reasons Why: The Introduction

I’ve been hyping the release of my teen novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, for ten months now…and there are still two months to go. Yet not once has anyone left a comment (not even anonymously!) asking me to please shut up about it. For being so considerate, I’d like to offer you a sneak peek between the covers. Unfortunately, the introduction is all I can offer. Fortunately, you can walk into your local bookstore and pre-order the entire novel right now!

- Jay Asher


“Sir?” she repeats. “How soon do you want it to get there?”

I rub two fingers, hard, over my left eyebrow. The throbbing has become intense. “It doesn’t matter,” I say.

The clerk takes the package. The same shoebox that sat on my porch less than twenty-four hours ago; rewrapped in a brown paperbag, sealed with clear packing tape, exactly as I had received it. But now addressed with a new name. The next name on Hannah Baker’s list.

“Baker’s dozen,” I mumble. Then I feel disgusted for even noticing it.

“Excuse me?”

I shake my head. “How much is it?”

She places the box on a rubber pad, then punches a sequence on her keyboard.

I set my cup of gas-station coffee on the counter and glance at the screen. I pull a few bills from my wallet, dig some coins out of my pocket, and place my money on the counter.

“I don’t think the coffee’s kicked in yet,” she says. “You’re missing a dollar.”

I hand over the extra dollar, then rub the sleep from my eyes. The coffee’s lukewarm when I take a sip, making it harder to gulp down. But I need to wake up somehow.

Or maybe not. Maybe it’s best to get through the day half-asleep. Maybe that’s the only way to get through today.

“It should arrive at this address tomorrow,” she says. “Maybe the day after tomorrow.” Then she drops the box into a cart behind her.

I should have waited till after school. I should have given Jenny one final day of peace.

Though she doesn’t deserve it.

When she gets home tomorrow, or the next day, she’ll find a package on her doorstep. Or if her mom or dad or someone else gets there first, maybe she’ll find it on her bed. And she’ll be excited. I was excited. A package with no return address? Did they forget, or was it intentional? Maybe from a secret admirer?

“Do you want your receipt?” the clerk asks.

I shake my head.

A small printer clicks one out anyway. I watch her tear the slip across the serrated plastic and drop it into a wastebasket.

There’s only one post office in town. I wonder if the same clerk helped the other people on the list, those who got this package before me. Did they keep their receipts as sick souvenirs? Tuck them in their underwear drawers? Pin them up on corkboards?

I almost ask for my receipt back. I almost say, “I’m sorry, can I have it after all?” As a reminder.

But if I wanted a reminder, I could’ve made copies of the tapes or saved the map. But I never want to hear those tapes again. Though her voice will never leave my head. And the houses, the streets, and the high school will always be there to remind me.

It’s out of my control now. The package is on its way. I leave the post office without the receipt.

Deep behind my left eyebrow, my head is still pounding. Every swallow tastes sour, and the closer I get to school, the closer I come to collapsing.

I want to collapse. I want to fall on the sidewalk right there and drag myself into the ivy. Because just beyond the ivy the sidewalk curves, following the outside of the school parking lot. It cuts through the front lawn and into the main building. It leads through the front doors and turns into a hallway which meanders between rows of lockers and classrooms on both sides, finally entering the always-open door to first period.

At the front of the room, facing the students, will be the desk of Mr. Porter. He’ll be the last to receive a package with no return address. And in the middle of the room, one desk to the left, will be the desk of Hannah Baker.

Empty.

29 comments:

de_scribes said...

Wow! I was right there in the post office drinking that terrible coffee. Can't WAIT to read the rest. Thanks so much for posting this!

"e" said...

Ooooo, chills!!!
I can't wait to read the rest!
:)
e

PS - Great meeting you in LA, Jay! You've been blogged: dulemba.com

Mac McCool said...

Strong hook, Jay! Such a tease! Gripping lines! What's in that box??? Very exciting stuff!!! Speaking of openings, here are some more fun ones!

Colorado Writer said...

I'm reading my special signed ARC and it's keeping me on the edge of my seat. I keep turning the pages faster and faster and have to force myself to slow down and savor the story.

Kelly Fineman said...

Damn -- that is some powerful writing. Can't wait to pick it up (to go with my excellent bookmark).

Natalie said...

Colorado Writer--I know what you mean! And it only gets better...

Danette said...

Sounds great Jay! I'm on my way to Amazon.

Danette

tammi said...

Huzzah!

Do I know how to call the Next Big Thing or what?

Lisa Schroeder said...

Jay, you are SUCH a tease!!!

Linda D. (sbk) said...

Wow, that's just fantastic. And yeah, you are SUCH a tease!!! I'm not sure I can wait 2 months to read this. If I throw a big enough cyber-tantrum, do you think it will help me get an earlier copy?

Disco Mermaids said...

While I'd love to see what's involved in a cyber-tantrum, I'm all out of advance copies.

So you're just gonna have to buy a copy...which, I think, would make my publisher very happy!

- Jay

cynjay said...

Hey! Kelly got a bookmark?

Don Tate II said...

Hey, I plan to get mine hot off the press, soon as it publishes -- of course!

O'Donovan said...

Wowza, Jay. I expected it to be good, but I didn't expect you to be this vicious. Two months to go and you're teasing us like this? Cruel.

Anonymous said...

I got the chills, too!! This is a wonderful intro to what I hear is a fabulous novel. Congrats. =)

*heidi

Leslie Muir said...

Jay-

Intriguing, for sure.

Disco Mermaids said...

I've read that intro a million times, and it STILL makes me want to read the rest of the book! Again!

I can't wait to stand in line and buy my own copy. I think I'll even keep the receipt as a souvenir. (Sick, I know.)

;-) Robin

Laini Taylor said...

Hey there! Jay, I read your book practically straight through -- it's terrific! I just mentioned it on my blog and how I was angry at you while I was reading, for setting us up to care about Hannah. You meanie! But seriously, it's very powerful, very effective. I look forward to reading wonderful reviews AND to reading more Jay Asher books! As for specifics about the book, I'll myspace message you, so I don't give away anything. Thanks for a great read, Jay!

[And hi Robin & Eve! Great to meet you all!]

Lisa Albert said...

I have a feeling there will be a LONG line at the SCBWI LA autographing party next year! YOUR line. :)

Fantastic intro, Jay. I'm off to order a first edition. ;)

Hi Eve and Robin!!

Dot said...

Adding my WOW! to the rest. Thanks for posting this, Jay. It's an inspiring example of how to throw lots of little hooks into the reader.

annie said...

Is it gonna make me cry. It's gonna make me cry isn't it?? I'm gonna start crossing off the calendar days til October. Damn you for making the intro so cool.

Paige Y. said...

And my list of must-reads just got one longer. Could you have a more gripping opener? Cannot wait to get it!

what'sinyoursoul said...

Having read the ARC, I can personally attest that he's NOT JUST A TEASE. It's a fabulous book. So now I can't wait to read your next!

Holly

Rita said...

This is . . . awesome . . .

. . .

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.
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Anne Marie said...

I can't wait!

Nell said...

I'm so buying this book.

Jodi T. said...

Awesome, Jay. Leaving me drooling waiting for the book release so I can read the rest of it!

Great meeting you in LA!

Jodi

Anonymous said...

do you still have the original tapes? we would love to listen to them sometime... sacramento can't wait for the book.

from the b-sides pl>yer

Katia Novet Saint-Lot said...

Jay, I finally read your intro. I'm back in India, suffering from jetlag, and I wanted to make sure I was rested before I read it. Very powerful beginning! I'm now going to check amazon.com, see if I can pre-order a copy and have it sent to India ASAP.