Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher

Publisher: Razor Bill (Penguin Group U.S.)

Date Published: June 14, 2011

Pages: 336 (paperback)

Genre: YA fiction, realistic fiction

Age Range: 14+


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

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.


Note that "13 Reasons Why" is a work of fiction.

The story jumps back and forth between Hannah's voice over the tapes and Clay's own thoughts and actions, so you have to pay attention to what is Italic and what is in plain print. I could easily hear Hannah Baker's voice while reading it, "visualizing" what I thought her voice would sound like and then it would switch off to a different voice whenever the story jumped back to Clay.

The story is unique in the way that Hannah Baker recorded herself on 7 tapes to tell the full story of why she committed suicide, and then sent out those tapes to the people who were involved. The first few tapes aren't bad, it wasn't until the last quarter of the book that you actually got a clue as to why this girl did what she did.

The story is sad and too true to life, showing teens how their actions can affect others and that thoughts of suicide are there in people--hopefully teaching some teens to be cautious about what they say and do. Jay Asher has had some comments on the matter, and also some comments from suicidal teens saying that the book [possibly] saved their life because they questioned the character, pointing out the things that Hannah Baker could have done instead of taking a hand-full of deadly pills.

Wouldn't recommend to a younger audience on the count that this book is about suicide. There is also drinking and mild sexual content, and of course, drugs (for further information, go to Common Sense Media). Overall, good message but a sad story.

You can listen to Hannah Baker's tapes at: www.thirteenreasonswhy.com/hannahsrea...

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