Published by Razorbill on October 18th 2007
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.Amazon •
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
Mature-Content Rating: Language, Underage Drinking, Suicide, Rape
“Looking back, I stopped writing in my notebook when I stopped wanting to know myself anymore…
If you hear a song that makes you cry and you don’t want to cry anymore, you don’t listen to that song anymore.
But you can’t get away from yourself. You can’t decide not to see yourself anymore. You can’t decide to turn off the noise in your head.”
First of all, just to make things clear, this is a book; fiction, and absolutely not meant to be used as a counseling device or guide for suicidal teens.
Hannah had thirteen reasons why she decided to commit suicide. As the new girl in school it was hard enough making new friends, then the rumors started. Slowly her high school life turned into her personal nightmare and Hannah recorded seven cassette tapes that acts as her suicide note; each story she tells explains a reason why she made her final decision.
Hannah explains through the tapes that these aren’t the only reasons, but it’s the story that connects the most people together and affected her the most. As the story moves on you’ll see a snowball effect; one persons actions leads to actions by another, then later circles around again to make the ball bigger and bigger. Hannah shows how “harmless” but hurtful pranks can start to define a student in high school and how labels are regarded higher than truth.
Clay is a typical nice guy, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a good guy. He is the main narrator of the book who had a crush on Hannah and. He receives the tapes and spends an entire afternoon and night listening to each tape from Hannah and even going to some of the places she marked on a map.
The story as a whole isn’t about Hannah and suicide. It’s more about individuals and reactions. Some of the characters’ reactions to receiving the tapes and knowing they had part in Hannah’s dead, even small, caused them to break down. Other characters that had more prominent roles in her death refused to see what they had done wrong.
The biggest issue is that the side characters fall flat. They’re not even enough personality for me to really care for them as individuals.
Overall, Thirteen Reasons Why is a good YA novel that hits tough issues. I would recommend for anyone who likes realistic YA that doesn’t dive too deep.