Th1rteen R3asons Why, by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: CD Audiobook CoverFinished audio 6-30-11, rating 4/5, YA, pub. 2007

Unabridged audio 6 hours, 25 minutes.  Read by Joel Johnstone and Debra Wiseman

High School good guy, Clay, received a box of cassette tapes.  On these tapes was the voice of Hannah Baker who had just recently committed suicide and she was telling the 13 people who had a hand in her decision her reasons why.  Clay was horrified that this girl, who he’d had a crush on for years could somehow think he’d had a hand in ruining her life and he spent the rest of the day and night listening and visiting the places she talked about, forever changing the way he looked at his classmates and himself.

This book has such a great premise and the story goes back and forth between Clay’s thoughts and Hannah’s words and it is really powerful.  I listened to the audio and I think it was the perfect way to experience this book.  The book made me think about how we don’t know what effect our actions, big or small, might have on someone else.  A kind word might be something that a person thinks about for days or changes the way she views herself and it was nice to be reminded of that.

I think the topic of teen suicide is important and I’m glad that this book has become so popular.  Teens need to know how suicide may affect those left behind and they need to know that people are there for you even when don’t notice right away. I think this is a must read for teens.

I don’t read a lot of YA.  No particular reason, maybe I’m a little too far removed from it.  But everything I read about this one intrigued me so I finally checked it out and was impressed.  My few problems with the book stemmed from how far removed I am, I think.  I do remember my teen years, when everything was SO IMPORTANT and NOTHING COULD WAIT.  Being a teen is no picnic, but neither is it so hard that some things cannot be overlooked as trivial.  Hannah listed 13 people on her tapes, but a few of the middle stories left me feeling like Hannah needed to get a grip.  But that’s coming from a 39 year woman, so take that for what it’s worth.  Even with that I’d still recommend this book.

I checked this audio out of the library.

22 thoughts on “Th1rteen R3asons Why, by Jay Asher

  1. Misha says:

    I have read such great reviews for this book. It almost seems like I am the only one who hasn’t read the book.
    I am glad to see that this book has dealt with an important issue. Hopefully, I will get to it some day.

  2. Teddyree says:

    I thought this was a brilliant debut novel but I had issues with Hannah and her capacity to form a complex plan that was vindictive & revengful whilst in the grip of depression but maybe you’re right about being too far removed, I’m also a long way from my young adult years lol

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Yeah, I did have some issues with Hannah being sharp enough to make those tapes but still unraveled enough to commit suicide. Great point!

  3. Heather says:

    The plot was a bit contrived, maybe, but I think the author did it in a way to bring out the whole topic of suicide. It’s a great book to use to talk about suicide with teens or anyone and just a little reminder about what we do matters in the world for good or bad. Really enjoyed this one. Great review!

    • stacybuckeye says:

      You’re right. It’s an important topic for teens and a great reminder for everyone to treat people with way you would like to be treated.

  4. BermudaOnion says:

    I read this for my book club. Everyone loved the book, except for me. I liked it a lot, but like you, thought Hannah needed to get a grip at time. I felt like she brought some of her problems on herself. Maybe that’s how a teen mind works, though. I was glad to see teen suicide get some attention.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I felt bad typing anything bad about Hannah, isn’t that funny? Like she was a real person and I didn’t want to pile anymore on her.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I don’t think it’s necessarily a depressing book. It does make you think about some depressing things though.

  5. StephanieD says:

    I agree with you about the teen perspective. The whole world ended when someone said anything critical and began again with just a bit of positive attention. Such a fragile time.

  6. softdrink says:

    I really like this book, mostly because it’s by a local author and I could recognize the fictional versions of many of the places in the town. I always get a kick out that.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Oh, I love when I recognize local places. There’s a mystery series set here in Cleveland that I love for that reason.

  7. redladysreadingroom says:

    I haven’t read this one yet as it does sound so intense. It is such an important topic and I have a son who will soon be a teenager and I see how hard kids are on each other. It sounds like a book I need to read.

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