Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Publication Date: 2007
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Group Inc.)
Number of Pages: 288
Awards: YALSA Best Books for Young Adults Award
Genre/Subgenre: Realistic fiction
Seven tapes. Thirteen people. Thirteen Reasons Why.
Two weeks after the suicide of his classmate and secret crush Hannah Baker, Clay Jensen arrives home to find a package with seven numbered cassette tapes. When Clay listens to the first tape, he hears Hannah’s voice explaining that she recorded these tapes for thirteen people to explain why she killed herself. The tapes are to be passed in order among the thirteen people that are featured on the tapes, and each of them has been given a map so they can trace Hannah’s story on the tapes. Clay is extremely shocked and upset, but he takes his map, “borrows” a portable cassette player from a friend, and spends the night walking around town, listening to the tapes, and trying to make sense of what happened to Hannah. Through the tapes he encounters the parts that he, some of his classmates, and one of their teachers played in Hannah’s death and to process Hannah’s decision to end her life.
From the writing to the characters to the plot, this book seriously impressed me. The novel was as interesting and captivating as the title and description indicated it would be – I couldn’t put it down and I don’t think that young readers will be able to either. Besides being an enticing read, Thirteen Reasons Why handles tough issues such as bullying, assault, relationships, depression, and suicide in a sensitive and thought-provoking manner. There are a small handful of books that I would recommend universally to teen readers, and this is one of them.
Why I Chose the Book:
As soon as first heard about Thirteen Reasons Why, which I believe was based on an iBooks personal recommendation, I wanted to know what the thirteen reasons were. I thought it was a very intriguing and creative premise for a novel, and I was hooked right away.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Book Talk Ideas
Given the themes of this novel, I think it would pair well with curriculum or programming for mental health or suicide awareness.
1. Hannah puts a lot of thought and planning into creating the tapes and ensuring that they get passed around after she is gone. Why is it important to Hannah for her story to be heard?
2. At the end of the novel, Clay reaches out to another student who is isolated like Hannah was. How does this show character growth on his part, and how much of this change do you think comes from hearing Hannah’s tapes?
Asher, J (2007). Thirteen Reasons Why. New York, NY: Razorbill
Goodreads (2014). Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Retrieved from:
YALSA (2014). 2008 BBYA List with Annotations. Retrieved from: