Thirteen Reasons Why

Quick Overview:
High school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing seven cassette tapes recorded by his crush, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide, and spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death.

Thoughts on the Book:
First-time author Jay Asher's story presents the dark side of teen life: drinking, sex, rumor mills, suicides, cries for help, inept or absent adults, and the mean spirit that surrounds the general high school student body. Here everyone's a victim, an enabler, or a perpetrator, and some of the characters are all three, including Hannah Baker. Her tapes and reasoning are, at times, just as selfish and mean as those she accuses. And while we see some of the 13 not showing much remorse, the majority are already burdened with "should haves" when Hannah's tapes arrive.
Teens will identify with the sometimes-oppressive culture of high school. For any teens who've had dark thoughts of their own, the aftermath of Hannah's decision and the conclusions Clay reaches will hopefully make them think again. But this book has messages that will reach all teens: Hannah warns that we must "be careful how you treat people, you never know how it will affect them." Readers will also realize that inaction -- whether to stop a crime or a rumor or talk to a troubled student, friend, or child -- can be just as damaging as deliberately inflicting pain.

Jay Asher

Jay Asher has worked at an independent bookstore, an outlet bookstore, a chain bookstore, and two public libraries. Jay's first writing award earned him a free fruit smoothie every day for an entire year. More recently, Thirteen Reasons Why won him the Write-It-Now Award, and the 2003 SCBWI Work in Progress grant. He was also named one of the "Hot Men in Children's Literature" by the librarian-run website A Fuse 8 Production.