Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher
Razorbill
Published October 18, 2007

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

An unexpected package greets high school student Clay Jenson at home one day. It bears no return address. Inside are seven cassette tapes. Curious, Clay pops one into a dusty player and is shocked to hear the voice of his crush, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide just weeks earlier. Clay is stunned. Through the tapes, Hannah promises to reveal the names and circumstances in which thirteen people contributed to her suicide. But how can he be one of them? He liked her.

Hannah’s story sends Clay spinning through town, visiting locations Hannah has marked on a map, reliving each scene through her eyes. His journey changes his perceptions of Hannah, his classmates, and himself, but not always in ways one expects.

Author Jay Asher tackles the topic of teen suicide with gravity and realism but without glamorizing or romanticizing it. While Hannah’s tapes cast blame and accusation on others, sometimes justly, the back-and-forth narrative gives Clay an opportunity to raise reasons why Hannah was not out of choices, and why her death was a tragedy but not an inevitability. Gritty and powerfully told.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Some crude language but no cursing.

Sexual Content
Reference to masturbation. Two scenes in which a girl is raped. One is not described at all. The other has some graphic details opening, but cuts off quickly. In one scene teens gather in their underwear in a hot tub.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violence
Reference to a teen killed in a car accident, but no description of the event. See sexual content.

Drug Content
Under-aged drinking at a party.

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About Kasey Giard

Kasey is a mother, reader and aspiring author. When she’s not reading or writing, you might find her out on the water fly fishing, pretending she can keep houseplants alive, or talking with the family rescue cat.

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6 Responses to Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

  1. Pingback: Giveaway and Review:Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston | Young Adult Book Reviews

  2. Linda says:

    This does sound really interesting how he traces through events. But also really depressing. :/

    • kaseygiard says:

      It was definitely sad. Less in a Nicholas Sparks way and more in a “Now I just want to sit and think about this for a minute” way. Fewer tissues. More deep thoughts. For what that’s worth. 🙂

  3. socalmbutnot says:

    This is one of my favorite, and in my opinion, best books I’ve ever read.

    • kaseygiard says:

      You know, I read it because another author I admire recommended it on shelfari, and I’ll admit I was a little skeptical about it at first. I worried that it would romanticize the idea of suicide, and each time I read it (because I’ve done so more than once) I’m struck again by how well Asher balances the story between sadness at the loss and the simple tragedy that it didn’t have to turn out that way. It’s got some mature elements, but it’s such a powerful story.

      • socalmbutnot says:

        I completely agree! The first time I saw the book was on a shelf at a grocery store and I just had to buy it (Its incredibly difficult to pass by a book!) and I have read several times as well.

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