"Eerie, beautiful, and devastating." -- Chicago Tribune
"A stealthy hit with staying power. Read more...
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"Eerie, beautiful, and devastating." --Chicago Tribune
"A stealthy hit with staying power. . . . thriller-like pacing." --The New York Times
"Thirteen Reasons Why will leave you with chills long after you have finished reading." --Amber Gibson, NPR's "All Things Considered"
You can't stop the future.
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever. Need to talk? Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime if you are in the United States. It's free and confidential.
Find more resources at 13reasonswhy.info. Find out how you can help someone in crisis at bethe1to.com.
- ISBN-13: 9781595141712
- ISBN-10: 1595141715
- Publisher: Razorbill
- Publish Date: October 2007
- Page Count: 288
- Reading Level: Ages 12-UP
- Dimensions: 8.59 x 5.73 x 1.02 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.91 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 55.
- Review Date: 2007-10-08
- Reviewer: Staff
This uncommonly polished debut opens on a riveting scenario: 13 teenagers in a small town have each been designated to listen, in secret, to a box of audiotapes recorded by their classmate Hannah and mailed on the very day she commits suicide. “I'm about to tell you the story of my life,” she says. “More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why.” Clay, the narrator, receives the tapes a few weeks after the suicide (each listener must send the box to the next, and Hannah has built in a plan to make sure her posthumous directions are followed), and his initial shock turns to horror as he hears the dead girl implicate his friends and acquaintances in various acts of callousness, cruelty or crime. Asher expertly paces the narrative, splicing Hannah's tale with Clay's mounting anxiety and fear. Just what has he done? Readers won't be able to pull themselves away until that question gets answered—no matter that the premise is contrived and the plot details can be implausible. The author gets all the characters right, from the popular girl who wants to insure her status to the boy who rapes an unconscious girl at a party where the liquor flows too freely, and the veneer of authenticity suffices to hide the story's flaws. Asher knows how to entertain an audience; this book will leave readers eager to see what he does next. Ages 13-up. (Oct.)
The toll of unintended consequences
Readers of Jay Asher's debut novel for teens, Thirteen Reasons Why, should be forewarnednever has a page-turner of a book been so difficult to read. This may sound like a criticism, but in fact it's a compliment, for this is the story of a suicide's aftermath, and Asher's ability to convey the anguish of someone who was left behind is truly remarkable.
The person in question is Clay Jensen, a likeable, intelligent teenager who comes home one afternoon to find a package with no return address on his porch; its contents will change his life. Inside are seven cassette tapes, each side numbered in turn to 13, with the last one blank. When he puts the first tape in an old player in his garage, to his horror the voice that he hears is coming from the grave. It is the voice of his secret crush Hannah Baker, a girl from his school who, two weeks earlier, had taken her own life.
Hannah's instructions are specific: Clay must listen to each tape in turn, for each one is about a person whose actions had some bearing on her suicide, he must follow a map she had provided to locations about town where events in her story took place, and he must send the tapes on to the next person on the list when he is finished.
Over the course of the evening, Clay will find that Hannah Baker wasn't who he thought she was, and that she wasn't what everyone said she was. He will learn some bitter truths about himself and the people he knowsthat actions can have unintended consequences and that inaction may trigger the worst consequences of all.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens in the 15 to 19 age group; peer pressure, adolescence angst, drugs and many other factors can make growing up unbearable for many. Thirteen Reasons Why tackles the issue head on, and doesn't offer any easy answers, but it does offer hope. It's a serious read, for serious readers, that delivers a powerful look at a teen in torment.