Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

 13 Reasons Why
by Jay Asher

  • Fiction, Realistic Fiction, YA
  • 13+ for complex themes and mature content
  • Trigger Warning: suicide, sexual assault, rape, self-harm, bullying, adult content 
  • Published October 18th, 2007 by Razorbill

     "You can’t stop the future.
     You can’t rewind the past.
     The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

     Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

     Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever." - Goodreads

     My reasons for starting Thirteen Reasons Why were not the greatest. In fact, originally I wasn't planning to read the book, I barely knew it existed. I wanted to watch the show, everyone else was watching it and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. However, my parents intervened and prevented me from watching the show as it was "too graphic." So, being me, I decided that if I couldn't watch the show, I'd read the book, because it's all the same right? Wrong. Watching a show and reading a book are two very different experiences, no matter how alike the story lines are. When watching a show, you're distanced from the characters, able to distinguish your thoughts from their's. However, when reading a book written in the first person, we tend to put ourselves in the character's shoes, I know I found myself doing that. And let me tell you, with this book that's a scary place to be, and it's for the best to give yourself the occasional break when reading the book. This is the only time I'll ever say this, but please do not binge read this novel.

     Now, you're probably waiting for my review, that is what you came for after all. So, without further ado, let's get on with the review!

     Starting the book, I didn't expect to have an emotional reaction, when it comes to fiction I have the emotional range of a teaspoon. But I got sucked into the book, I felt like I could understand what they were going through and related with the characters. Also, Asher mentions a lot of topics in ways people don't typically think of them, and these topics deserve some thought. Although Hannah doesn't necessarily handle all of her issues in a mature way, she does handle them in a way most teenagers would. Overall, I loved the book not only for bringing attention to important topics in society, but also for properly demonstrating the thought process of a teenager, unlike most realistic fiction.


     I strongly recommend that every teen or parent of a teen read this book at least
once before they become an adult. This experience could reveal the opportunity to talk about important subjects that society has labeled "taboo." However, when doing this, I suggest you keep a couple things in mind. Firstly, Hannah's final actions were anything but moral. Not only did she expect others to know what she was thinking, but she blamed them for causing more issues that she could've avoided herself. Secondly, her actions were very risky and the tapes were problematic in and of themselves. Not only did it blame others for her decision to kill herself, but she threatened their way of life if they didn't listen to tapes that had the potential to cause suicide, self-harm, or at the very least depression. While I believe that there are much more mature ways to go about Hannah's situation, I feel that her actions were a realistic portrayal of what the majority of teens would do in her situation. Although I'm not a psychologist or doctor, please keep in mind that if you've ever had suicidal thought or traumatic experiences, reading this book could cause flashbacks or a setback in progress made towards recovery. I encourage anyone that plans to read Thirteen Reasons Why to be careful and make sure to keep safe, don't feel bad if you have to stop reading.

About The Author

     "Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California on September 30, 1975. He grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. He attended Cuesta College right after graduating from high school. It was here where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. At this point in his life, he had decided he wanted to become an elementary school teacher. He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he left his senior year in order to pursue his career as a serious writer. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing." - Goodreads

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