2013 Reads: Eleven {Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher}

Friday, March 8, 2013

Oh. My. Word.

This book, you guys.

This book. 


Hannah Baker committed suicide.

Two weeks later a mysterious box shows up on Clay Jensen's porch. Inside are seven cassettes with sides labeled 1-13. On the tapes Hannah has recorded, in her own voice, the thirteen reasons why she made the decision to end her life. Each reason is a story that is attached to a particular person and an event. One story per side of each cassette.

The rules are simple - listen to the thirteen stories and when you are done, pass on the tapes to the person after you on the tapes. If you don't pass on the tapes a second set of tapes will be released to the public. Exposing some deep, dark secrets that those reasons would much rather be kept secret.

Clay is one of those decisions.

And once he listens he will understand why.

Clay spends an eventing walking around town listening as Hannah guides him through the last few weeks of her life. But her story extends further back - back to when her family first moved to town. Clay is forced to go back and learn the truth. The truth about his classmates, friends, and teachers. The truth about how one event can impact another event and can come crashing down in the most terrible of ways.

Clay will learn just how much an impact our words and actions have on other people.


Suicide is a tough issue to write a book about.

It can get too preachy or too kitschy or too forced. It can sound too textbook or too clinical. It's just an all around tricky topic to weave into a fiction book that a kid would want to read. And even more tricky to work into a book that a kid could be effected by.

In all honesty, I chose this book because it was available to download from the library. No waiting list meant I could try out the lending system for eBooks on my brand new Nook. I mean, I've seen it around for years in bookstores and in the hands of campers and students who were reading it.

I knew what it was about: the thirteen reasons a girl decided to end her life.

I knew it wasn't going to be the happiest of reads.

I knew it was going to be dark and sad and difficult to read.

What I wasn't expecting was how real and gritty and powerful it was going to be. How deeply invested I was going to become in the world and the people that Jay Asher created.

I seriously could not put this book down. I needed to know about Hannah. I needed to know what happened to her to make her spiral so far out of control that she gave up on herself completely. I needed to know how Clay fit into the picture. I needed to know that thirteenth and most deplorable reason.

And the way it was presented? I could not have thought of a better way to write this book. 

It's told from Hannah's voice, in italics. And from Clay's voice, in regular print. But rather than giving a chapter to one and then another chapter to the other? Asher writes them together. With Hannah's prerecorded message - maybe a sentence or two - followed by Clay's reaction - again, just a sentence or two. Chapters are structured as "Tape 1: Side A." And when Clay pauses the tape to take a second to think about things? Ashe uses a pause button symbol or a stop symbol to show that the tape has stopped. And when Clay pushes play? Asher injects a play button symbol to show it in the text. 

It really is brilliant. It makes the realness so much more real. And it makes Hannah and Clay both incredibly accessible to the reader. You feel everything they feel, right alongside them, right as they feel it too.

I can't say it enough, but this book had such a tremendous impact on me. I can only imagine how much it would impact a teenager today who picked it up.

It's full of all of the lessons we want kids to learn: how rumors start and just how much they can hurt someone; how all of our words and actions have an effect on others no matter how small or trivial we may believe them to be; the warning signs for suicide; the need to reach out for help (and multiple times if needed!). And so, so, so much more.

I want every teenager to read this book at some point in their adolescence.



Title: Th1rteen R3asons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction; Contemporary; Tough Stuff
Recommended For: 8th Grade + because of tricky topics (suicide, partying, etc)
Medium: eBook, 183p
Date Read: 7 March 2013
Source: NH Downloadable Books
Challenge: Goodreads

First Line: "Sir?" she repeats. "How soon do you want it to get there?"
Favorite Line: No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people.
Last Line: "Skye." [whited out, for spoiler's sake]


  1. I have heard so many many good things about this book, I feel like I'm one of the last people to read it! I have just realised (that as a new blogger) I have spent the last week on this site going OH MY GOODNESS I NEED TO READ ALL THE BOOKS. This is definitely near the top of my TBR list!

    1. That is one of my BIGGEST problems! I find SO many books to read that my TBR list is probably about a half-mile long at least.

      This is a really good book, and a really quick read too. I thought I was the last to get to it too! Enjoy! Let me know when you do read it!

  2. Courtney, thanks for joining in the link up for the new edition of Books You Loved. Cheers

  3. Wow.....great review and thoughts. Sounds pretty powerful.

    THANKS for sharing.

    Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved March Edition I am in that list as #15.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Entry


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