Thirteen Reasons Why

thirteen reasons whyby Jay Asher

  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Pub. Date: October 2007
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • 320pp
Synopsis:(from www.bn.com)
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers 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.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Review from School Library Journal  (www.bn.com)
Gr 7 Up High school senior Clay Jensen receives seven audiotapes in the mail. They contain the story of why Hannah Baker, a girl he adored, committed suicide. Each side is devoted to a person in her life and a reason for her death. Clay also has a map of places featured on the recordings. He spends a torturous night listening and wandering, unearthing the depth and causes of Hannah’s unhappiness. His torment is private-how did he hurt a girl he treasured from afar-and empathic-her hurts and betrayals tear him apart. Clay’s pain is palpable and exquisitely drawn in gripping, casually poetic prose. The complex and soulful characters expose astoundingly rich and singularly teenage inner lives, with emotions as raw as cut wrists. The mood is more serious than somber, and Clay’s thoughtful synthesis of Hannah’s increasingly explosive narrative saves the novel from melodrama. In fact, Hannah’s and Clay’s narratives are woven together so seamlessly that the characters appear to converse naturally from opposite sides of mortality. Compounded, the tapes build the plot in increasingly tense increments-Hannah’s story is a freight train of despair and suspense that picks up speed as it moves to her final undoing. Like the protagonist in John Green’s Looking for Alaska (Dutton, 2005), Hannah is an animate ghost; Clay’s bereaved voice bears witness to her tragedy. The episodic structure is nicely suited to reluctant readers, but the breakneck pace and dizzying emotion are the true source of this novel’s irresistible readability at all levels.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library

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