Thirteen Reasons Why

5236631164 60f3dc2ace Thirteen Reasons WhyBuy Thirteen Reasons Why
Special $9.49 (Regular price: $16.99)
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Hardcover
Reviewer: Melissa on December 6, 2010
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In Jay Asher‘s debut YA novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, Clay Jensen gets home from school to find a package without a return address waiting for him. At first he’s pretty excited, but as he begins to listen to the enclosed tapes, everything changes. Why? Well, he hears Hannah Baker’s voice — the voice of the girl he’d had a crush on for years and who took her own life two weeks previously — telling him that there are thirteen reasons she decided to take her own life and that everyone listening to the tapes is one of the reasons. Clay is certain that he hasn’t done anything to hurt her, but he keeps listening to a series of cassette tapes that change his life completely, bearing witness to Hannah’s pain and finally understanding a truth about himself that he never wanted to believe.

Written as a ‘conversation’ between the recorded voice of Hannah and Clay, who responds verbally and internally to the thoughts and actions of his deceased crush, I have to admit that Asher has written one of the most original concepts for a YA novel that I’ve ever read. Readers will want to hear how the experiences that Hannah goes through snowball together to become something unbearable. At the same time, Clay’s reactions, which at times sympathize with her experience and at others offer alternate ways of looking at the situation, make ThirteenReasonsWhy well rounded. Had Asher told the situation from only Hannah’s perspective, it would have had great insight into the thoughts and feelings that bring a teen from having normal teen issues to determining that suicide is their only way out. However, it would have been less hopeful, given her decision, and it would have been the perspective of an unreliable narrator, who is feeling her negative feelings so intensely that she wouldn’t have seen the other side of the story.

Not only is this New York Times Bestseller original, but also it’s a gripping page turner. From the first moment that Clay begins to listen to the tapes, he’s drawn into a side of Hannah that he never knew – the Hannah near the end of her life – and so is the reader. Just as he wants to understand how he could possibly have been responsible for Hannah’s death, so does the reader. Just as he wants to understand where his name will come up on the series of tapes, so does the reader. And most importantly, we want to see Clay become more than the dark and depressed person we see in the novel’s opening chapter as well as how he got to that point in the first place.

I’m not surprised at all by how well this novel has done over the last three years. It will speak to teens who are going through regular, teen issues, possibly with low level depression, but will also help readers understand that their actions affect others. As Hannah points out, some of the incidents she records are small, but they either set the actions of other individuals in motion or contribute to other difficult experiences she’s going through. Thirteen Reasons Why helps teen readers realize that treating their peers with respect is necessary because they can never really know what their peers are going through at any given moment.

Buy Thirteen Reasons Why today!

  6 comments for “Thirteen Reasons Why

  1. December 7, 2010 at 12:14 am

    This novel sounds incredible. A friend mentioned to me a while back, but I was a little wary — especially knowing the friend. However, after reading your review I’m definitely adding this to my TBR list. Thank you for hosting this fantastic event to raise awareness about such an important and timely topic.

  2. December 7, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Ha! What you said about your friend made me laugh. It really is quite incredible, Casey, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. You’re welcome – I was really happy to host this event this year. Perhaps next year, I can expand the event to include other bloggers – just a thought.

  3. Rana
    December 7, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I love this book! I recommend it to anyone I know because it’s so good.
    Some of my friends said that her reasons for killing herself weren’t good enough but I think I can’t judge her for that.
    Because no reason is worth you killing yourself. But Hannah was in trouble and she needed someone to save her. Too bad no one did.

    Great Review!

  4. December 7, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Thanks for your comment, Rana. I’m glad that you liked my review. It’s interesting to know that some of your friends didn’t think the reasons Hannah had weren’t good enough to kill herself over. From reading the book, I know that Hannah was hinting at other problems that she had beyond the reputation issues, and I think that the difficulties that she mentioned were problems in the present that perhaps reminded her of earlier traumas, ones that she wasn’t willing or able to talk about or even really admit to herself. I agree with you that killing yourself is a really drastic measure, or as is often stated, it’s a permanent solution for a temporary problem. Had Hannah been able to hold out for a year or two, I think that she would have found going to university or college would have been a very different experience. She would have been able to start fresh and the rumors about her in the past wouldn’t have mattered. Also while I agree with you that if anyone had taken the time to really push to know what was wrong, it would’ve been good, I think Hannah had a responsibility to really reach out as well.

  5. December 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Wow, I’m really loving the premise of this and I know I would like the writing style, as you described “conversations between the recorded voice of Hannah and Clay.” Thanks for putting this one on my radar.

  6. December 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    You’re welcome, Aylee. There are definitely parts that are tough to read, but it’s a really good exploration of the subject matter. Hope you like it as much as I did.

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