Thirteen Reasons Why is a young adult novel written in 2007 by Jay Asher. It is the story of a young high school student as she descends into despair brought on by betrayal and bullying, culminating with her suicide. She details the thirteen reasons why in an audio diary which is mailed to a friend two weeks after her death.
- Author: Jay Asher
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Razorbill
- Publication date: October 8, 2007
- Publisher’s recommended age(s): 14–18
- Number of pages: 309
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Hardback, Kindle
Readers of Jay Asher’s debut novel for teens, Thirteen Reasons Why should be forewarned never has a page-turner of a book been so difficult to read. This may sound like a criticism, but in fact, it’s a compliment, for this is the story of a suicide’s aftermath, and Asher’s ability to convey the anguish of someone who was left behind is truly remarkable.
The person in question is Clay Jensen, a likable, intelligent teenager who comes home one afternoon to find a package with no return address on his porch; its contents will change his life. Inside are seven cassette tapes, each side numbered in turn to 13, with the last one blank. When he puts the first tape in an old player in his garage, to his horror the voice that he hears is coming from the grave. It is the voice of his secret crush Hannah Baker, a girl from his school who, two weeks earlier, had taken her own life.
Hannah’s instructions are specific: Clay must listen to each tape in turn, for each one is about a person whose actions had some bearing on her suicide, and he must follow a map she had provided to locations in town where events in her story took place, and he must send the tapes on to the next person on the list when he is finished. Over the course of the evening, Clay will find that Hannah Baker wasn’t who he thought she was, and that she wasn’t what everyone said she was. He will learn some bitter truths about himself and the people he knows that actions can have unintended consequences and that inaction may trigger the worst consequences of all.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens in the 15 to 19 age group; peer pressure, adolescence angst, drugs, and many other factors can make growing up unbearable for many. Thirteen Reasons Why tackles the issue head-on and doesn’t offer any easy answers, but it does offer hope. It’s a serious read, for serious readers, that delivers a powerful look at a teen in torment.
Thirteen Reasons Why has received recognition and awards from several young adult literary associations, and the paperback edition reached #1 on the New York Times Best Sell. Readers of Jay Asher’s debut novel for teens, Thirteen Reasons Why should be forewarned never has a page-turner of a book been so difficult to read. This may sound like a criticism, but in fact, it’s a compliment, for this is the story of a suicide’s aftermath, and Asher’s ability to convey the anguish of someone who was left behind is truly remarkable.
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 aspects 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.