Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Posted 10 October, 2010 by Danny in / 23 Comments

Thirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher
Published: October 18, 2007
Links: Goodreads, Amazon (available as Kindle edition)
Audiobook borrowed from library


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.


This story is one of those tales that will tear at your heart. I selected this book purely on a recommendation (more on that in a bit) so I didn’t know much about it other than it was about a girl who committed suicide and the tapes she sent one guy from her school. And the guy, Clay, seems like a nice, stand up kid. The kind of boy I’d like my girls to date when they’re older. So as the story unfolds and you realize that these tapes are for the people who are connected to Hannah’s reasons for committing suicide, it doesn’t make much sense.

But eventually it does. Tape by tape, Hannah, or rather the author, Jay Asher, shows us how insidious the little hurts in high school can be, especially when they pile up on an already emotionally frail girl.

What I liked about this book was that there was little apologizing. The people in it, including Hannah, were stripped bare, shown with good and bad points, showing that there’s a little bit of light and dark in all of us. I also enjoyed the modified, or perhaps modernized, epistolary form of the tapes, which allowed both Clay and the reader to remain so close to Hannah, despite the fact that she’s dead before the book even begins.

Bottom Line

This is an amazing book, albeit profoundly depressing at points, simply because it is so emotionally true.

I give it 4 out of 5 books!
Final Notes

I’m so lucky to be friends with a lovely woman named Greta a.k.a erikasbuddy! She’s the person who recommended this story to me and I’m so happy that we’re friends on Goodreads (among other places) because she’s always recommending books to me that are outside of what I normally read but that I absolutely adore. So a super-huge thank you to Greta!!!

Finally, I hope it doesn’t sound hokey, but between this book and what I’ve been seeing in the news as of late, I feel obliged to offer up the following information again. Please, if you see someone in pain, if you see anyone with the warning signs…save a life and help prevent suicide. As this book eloquently points out, sometimes a simple word of kindness can be the difference between life and death. Share the love!

To Write Love On Her Arms
is an inspiring advocacy site that brings real world voices
to the issues of depression and suicide.

Now go and get lost…in a book!

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23 Responses to “Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher”

  1. I am SO glad that you liked this one. I really enjoyed the whole story of it, well, not enjoyed…but it was just amazing and heartbreaking and real. There have been problems with others about the reasons not being enough, that the tapes were unjustified. I'll have to re-read to see whether I agree or not to those criticisms, but it's one of my top 10 faves so far.

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  2. I love this book so much. It is one of those amazing stories that stays with you for a long, long time. I love the setup of it – with the tapes – it made for a really great way to get to know Hannah and see her experience first hand. I think everyone should read this book 🙂
    My recent post In My Mailbox 12

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  3. This is one of those books that is so hard to read, but you feel so glad that you got through! I remember sobbing at points while I read it. Thanks for the amazing review :). I'm so happy that you posted about TWLOHA! I'm a big fan of their advocacy.

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  4. Greta is Erikasbuddy

    I love love loved this book! It made me sit back and THINK…. really THINK!! And I loved how you had no idea what the next tape was going to bring. Truely awesome!! It definately showed the ugly side of people.____Another good Book to read that is KIND of like this but not as extreme is called CUT. And then another one (Gawd Greta! Obsessed with this stuff? – kinda lolz!) is called IMPULSE.____Impulse will make you gasp too

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  5. I've seen that on the other reviews too, but for me, considering the age of the characters in question, it rang true. Plus I thought the tapes were genius! It really was a great story!!!

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  6. Stopping giving me recs! You're filling up my TBR! Seriously, thought, thank you again and again for telling me about this book (and all the others you rec to me) – you are an amazingly well read woman!

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  7. This is a difficult question to answer. Would I have been able to handle this at 16? Yes. Would I give it to my kids when they're 16? Yes. But would other moms I know? Some would definitely say no. So my best advice would be to read it first and make a judgement that way. You know your family's and your sister's preferences and tolerances better than me. I hope that's not too wishy washy!

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  8. Greta is Erikasbuddy

    *Snort!! I'm only well read if there aren't any big words in the books lolz!! I'm uber happy that you lovered it 🙂 SJA recc'd it to me

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  9. i.y.

    I read this book about a month ago and i stumbled upon your review now… but I can't say I agree with you. I didn't see Hannah as the tortured soul the writer intended her to be. Her problems are not that major, but she goes off and kills herself anyway… To say that this story is heartbreaking is just not true. There are stories a million times more heartbreaking and soul wrenching than this yet they never get the proper attention…Still, thanx for your review:D

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