13 Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

teen on swing book cover

BIBLIO: 2007, Razorbill an Imprint of Penguin Books, Ages 14 and up.
REVIEWER: Gwen Harter.
FORMAT: Young Adult book
ISBN: 978-1595141880

Good books show you emotion. Great books make you feel that emotion. Th1rteen R3asons Why is a realistic fiction novel that delves into one of society’s biggest shames- suicide. Hannah Baker is an outcast in her new home, falsely labeled promiscuous and constantly ignored and ridiculed, bullied. Sick of all the negative attention she ends her life with a handful of pills, leaving town forever, but not without a bang. Hannah records thirteen stories for her suicide note, each tape talks about one person that ruins her life and how they connect to her decision. The tapes have two rules, 1. You have to listen to all of it and 2. You have to pass it on. If you refuse a second set of tapes will be released for the whole town to listen to; and most of the tapes contain deadly secrets. The book follows the main character, high school junior, Clay Jensen as he sinks into the suspenseful set of tapes that eventually give him closure. This book is stylistically genius never giving anything away prematurely and leaving the reader on the edge of their seat. The reader experiences personally this tragic occurrence through Clay’s first person internal narrative commenting on Hannah’s tapes and his intense emotions as he struggles to admit he is too late. I recommend this to any student that is struggling with similar situations either directly or with someone else. Based on the content and the high emotional value I would suggest that it be shared with 8th grade and up. It is only slightly biased towards girls and I think any student would enjoy this 2008 YALSA’s Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers selection. This book is a great discussion starter for bullying, rape, and fitting in in high school, and needs to be promoted everywhere.