Book Review · Young Adult

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Book Cover

Genre: Young Adult
Number of Pages: 288
Publication Date:  October 18, 2007

Rating: 5-star-review out of 5
Story Perspective: First-Person, Double Narrative
Themes: Suicide, Relationships

downloadOne day, teenage Clay Jensen receives a very curious package. When he opens it, what he finds has no words – it’s Hannah’s tape recordings prior to her suicide. Broken-hearted, will Clay be able to listen to them? To hear her final words?

After some contemplating, he decides that he has to hear what Hannah had to say. By listening to these tapes, Clay gets to know the real Hannah…the one he might have loved…


Teen suicide is not a topic that is a pleasant one to talk about or even think about. For a teenager, who has barely begun to live, to think that the only way to stop all of their hurt is by ending their lives is just so very sad.

Everything about this read was perfect. It dealt with suicide well, by not necessarily focusing on the how, but on the why. The double narratives, Clay and Hannah’s tape recordings flowed extremely well together. But, above all, the author’s message was clear – don’t be afraid of talking about suicide, look for signs that someone might need help, and help them. 

One of the things that struck me about this read was how one simple rumor…a stupid thought, really…can spiral into something so dark so quickly. It is this one rumor that creates a domino effect in Hannah’s life.

I can also see both Hannah and Clay as being extremely relatable to today’s teens. Hannah – lost, hurt, insecure; Clay – unsure, shy, kind. They represent a population that is not necessarily in the “popular crowd”, but those who take a backseat in other people’s minds. Hannah was disrespected and mistreated, while Clay was treated well, but distant. Funny enough, I can relate to Clay fairly well in my high school years. The popular crowd knew who I was and didn’t mind working on projects together or even saying ‘hi’ once in a while, but we weren’t really friends. This is how I picture Clay, respected, but not really close to many. Hannah, I’m sure, represents many teens out there who just don’t have the support they need when things start to spiral down.

Honestly, the only “negative” thought I have for this book is to be careful in whose hands it falls in. I have never experienced suicidal thoughts, but I had a friend in high school who was a bit unstable and cut herself once. Of the two of us, if we were to read this book in high school, I would have similar thoughts to what I have now (sad, reflective), while with her, I would be afraid that she would like Hannah’s recording idea and perhaps consider taking her cutting to another level.

As far as the main elements in a good book is concern, Asher was on target with this one. The main characters were well-developed and likable, the message was clear, the plot flowed extremely well and was presented excellently, and it was definitely professionally edited.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this thought-provoking novel. This has inspired me to look into the author’s other works, as well as, to check out the new Netflix series.

Absolutely. To both non-suicidal teens and adults.

4 thoughts on “Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

    1. No, that’s not weird at all. I’m usually the opposite. I’m okay with the book (sad, of course), but become a lot more emotional when I watch its adaptation. It was really, really good, so I’m excited to give the show a watch. Starting tonight 😮 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great review! I love reading your views on the content of particular books and the themes that go along with them. I purchased this audiobook (haven’t listened to it yet), and I started watching the series on Netflix when it came out with students at lunchtime, and then we would hold guided discussions about what we watched each Friday. If they didn’t participate in the discussions, they couldn’t attend the viewing the following week. We didn’t get very far in the series because lunch was only about 20 minutes long after they got their food and settled in. There was more cussing than I expected it to have, but I got it aprroved, so at least I was safe! I was surprised at how many kids joined during lunch time! Wow! They really got into it. I’ve read so many reviews on both sides, but I really think that if you handle it correctly with meaningful discussions, bringing awareness to the subject of suicide is necessary, especially for my high school students. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, tarafarah7! I appreciate it. 🙂 I’m watching the show now…it’s so sad, but I feel a lot of the situations are pretty realistic. I was so lucky to not have experienced what Hannah experienced, but I can see how kids can be mean and how others don’t want to share information with their parents. And I agree, suicide is definitely a topic that can’t be ignored or pushed aside.

      It’s interesting that your high school allowed the kids to watch the show since I know there was some controversy of other high schools against the book, never mind the show. I would be curious to hear what actual teenagers think of the show and the situations that are brought up. I try to remember my teenage years and what would I think, but as my hubby has said I wasn’t a normal teenager. For instance, if I was Clay, I would have told my parents the second I received the tapes…basically, I told them everything when I was in high school, but I don’t know how typical that is. Also, I didn’t cave into peer pressure very easily or be outward mean to someone.

      Anyway, thank you for reading and sharing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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