Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Author: Jay Asher

Publisher: Razorbill

Release date: October 18, 2007

Rating: 5 stars – I LOVED THIS TO PIECES.

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Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen 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. — Goodreads


There are no words to fully describe how thought-provoking and brilliantly written Thirteen Reasons Why left me. I was rendered speechless with Asher’s raw and realistic writing.

When Clay begins to listen to the mysterious tapes he finds on his porch after school, the last thing he expects is to hear Hannah Baker’s voice. Clay’s confusion further deepens as he realizes that he is one of the reasons – one of the thirteen reasons why Hannah committed suicide. As he listens, Clay tries to find his reason, bracing himself for the tape where Hannah will say his name. As he listens to the ghost of the girl he may have loved, Clay’s view of life and the world changes in the course of one night.

If there is one thing that I took away from reading this novel is that our actions have a snowball effect onto others lives. I’ve always had a sense of that as I was teased mercilessly when I was in middle school. I watch what I say, I have a heavy filter, which may be one of the reasons why I’m not an eloquent speaker as I am in writing.

One of the things that I loved about this novel was Jay Asher’s mastery of dual narration. Hannah’s story is told throughout the tapes that Clay listens to. It’s done in a very intricate and simply way. We get to know Hannah based on the tapes, and we get to know and feel what Clay is going through as he listens. It’s just brilliantly done.

The book also literally broke my heart. When it came to Clay’s tape I just broke down. I was at school, waiting for my dad to pick me up, and as I waited I read. I guess my advice here is to not read this book in public unless you want people to openly stare at you, wondering what is wrong with you.

I don’t want to reveal Clay’s reason for Hannah ending her life, but it’s heartbreaking. Sad. The other people who contributed to one of Hannah’s reasons may be seen as small events, but they spiraled into actions where Hannah was ridiculed and thought of in a negative connotation than who she really was. No one knew her entirely. Not even Clay.

When Clay finishes the tape, he regrets not being able to reach out to her. The signs were all there. It’s constant and reoccurring mantra (in a way) that appears throughout the novel. It’s very heart felt. And like I said before, it makes you realize how you treat people because it effects them and how fragile we are as humans.

Suicide is not something to take lightly. It’s not something that people do for attention as it is said to be. People who consider the thought of suicide are individuals who seek someone to just listen and to help. You never know if a person is trying to reach out to you.

The ending of the novel left me with a tinge of hope as Clay takes a step into unknown territory and does something rather than standing on the sidelines. It’s hard for him, and Asher coney’s his emotions at the end (not just the end but the entire novel!) so very well that I physically could see Clay in that hall as I hide a wry smile.

This has to be one of the most compelling novels I have ever read. It gnawed at my heart with every fiber, leaving me completely and utterly spellbound. Jay Asher is a true storyteller, giving Thirteen Reasons Why a true sense of the heavy subject. I should have read this sooner, and I’m glad that I did read it. I believe that it’s a book that everyone should read. It’s brilliantly powerful and will transform you like it changed Clay.

Lastly, I leave you with a fanmade video of Hannah Baker’s tapes. It’s the first few minutes that Clay listens to and stops. The voice is eerie and very much how I pictured Hannah’s voice to be as I read. If you have read this book, you could find a video of all the tapes on the tube.

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