#Bookreview Thirteen Reasons Why by @jayasherguy @penguinrandom #TuesdayBookBlog

Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is a young adult book which deals with a disturbing case of teenage suicide. This book has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and has been made into a series by Netflix.

Teenager Clay Jensen returns home to find a mystery package on his doorstep. It contains old style cassette tapes from a girl at school, rumoured to have committed suicide. Intrigued, Clay begins to listen, then he is reminded of a map of the town which mysteriously arrived in his school locker.

Hannah’s reasons for creating the tapes have Clay criss-crossing town as we hear about the decisions others made which, she felt, which left her alone, hurt and eventually suicidal.
The author chose to write the book using dual narration: Hannah’s voice on the tapes and Clay’s immediate response to points and situations. It makes the story incredibly intense and puts the reader right in with the middle of the story. Thirteen reasons; thirteen stories of how and why Hannah ended up where, she believed, she only had one choice left. Those mentioned on the tapes never realising the connections they made and the impact they had on one girl.

Using everyday situations that many teens find themselves in, the suicide element has already shown itself to be a controversial discussion topic among many other readers. Was the book intended to highlight suicide? I don’t think so; it is more about the impact anyone’s thoughts and actions can have on another human being. Would it be a suitable book for anyone with suicidal tendencies? I don’t think so, not particularly; there are no answers or suggestions for help. Instead, it could make us think about how simple, often thoughtless, words, and action or non-action, can have such an effect on another’s life, and highlight that we don’t exist in a bubble.

I liked this book and read it over the course of twenty four hours. It was refreshing, harsh at times, intense and even surreal. The unusual writing style worked well and I can see this work being a popular discussion topic, for the teenage groups in years to come. Maybe a classic in the making? I shall leave you with a quote from the book:

“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people.”

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Book Description

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.

About the author

Jay Asher

Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California on September 30, 1975. He grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. He attended Cuesta College right after graduating from high school. It was here where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. At this point in his life, he had decided he wanted to become an elementary school teacher. He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he left his senior year in order to pursue his career as a serious writer. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing.

He has published only one book to date, Thirteen Reasons Why, which was published in October 2007. He is currently working on his second Young Adult novel, and has written several picture books and screenplays. Thirteen Reasons Why has won several awards and has received five stars from Teen Book Review. It also has received high reviews from fellow authors such as Ellen Hopkins, Chris Crutcher, and Gordon Kormon.

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11 thoughts on “#Bookreview Thirteen Reasons Why by @jayasherguy @penguinrandom #TuesdayBookBlog

  1. Hi! It might be worth putting a warning here, as there’s a lot of discussion online atm about this book/series being potentially encouraging of suicide, and has actually apparently resulted in copycat deaths.

    It might be a good idea to warn people that a lot of people have found this book quite/very distressing. Especially since this is a YA novel.

    Don’t mean to sound like a buzzkill, just a little worried that people won’t realise the potential impact of this book/series! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. How terrible, have they proved a direct link to the book content and the copy cat suicides?
      I did read much of the online discussions after I had read the book, but I have not watched the TV series which I believe, like many film and TV adaptions, does things a little differently.
      My policy on the blog is to review a book I have read, and my own thoughts, which I did express.
      It is a shame when negative hype has more impact than positive, but it follows the pattern of 50 Shades and Twilight, as just 2 other examples. People will chose to read or not read the book because of the media noise. Look at “banned” items, they often get more sales, than if nothing had been said in the first place.
      I remember, even back in the 1980s when Frankie Goes To Hollywood had their music banned, it became a chart topper instead.


      • It can be difficult to link suicide with one factor, simply because there tends to be several complex reasons behind any individual deaths, but this article: http://www.refinery29.uk/2017/06/158186/13-reasons-why-copycat-suicide-tapes-peru shows the sorts of things which have occurred.

        And I totally agree that banning is not the way to go. I dislike banning on principle. But I tend to favour reasonable warnings simply because you need to give the reader all the information (especially when it’s something like this) – I tend to call it the ‘cards on the table’ approach (because I’m a total nerd, lol.)


  2. The Netflx series, based on the story, caused quite a bit of controversy in the U.S. How it all plays out, remains to be seen. The quote from the book is apt. Suicide affects the people left behind, as well. How much everyone will have missed…

    A meaningful review, Rosie. Pinned & shared.


    • Thank you Linda. I rarely watch TV, or get involved with the latest uproar, so I was lucky enough to read this book having no preconceptions. After reading it, I did read many of the reviews on Goodreads and the subsequent discussions. It is really good if a book can create a high level of discussion. Teenagers are an ideal discussion group type, they can be very opinionated and motivated to make changes in their community with the right sort of help. We all need to be adaptive and when social media and life experienced adults also get involved, we know how tensions heighten.
      I’m sure this book with will remembered for many years to come.


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