Review: Thirteen Reasons Why


The Down and Dirty
Hannah is dead at the tender age of 16. Tragically, she took her own life. But she's left something behind: a box of thirteen audio tapes that she hopes will explain the reasons she chose to kill herself.

The Literary Criticism
Thirteen Reasons Why is Jay Asher's debut novel that deals with some powerful subject matter: teen suicide. I was prepared for preachy. I was prepared for condescension. But I wasn't prepared for what I actually read, which turned out to be a brutally honest exploration of both the victim and those left behind (he invalidates neither) wondering why and how such a thing could have happened.

Author Jay Asher has a rare, special touch with his readers. He actually understands that most mysterious and elusive of creatures: the teenager. Hannah's reasons for killing herself would appear, to most adults, inconsequential. But Asher understands that her reasons are very, very real to a teenager and he treats them with the seriousness they deserve. Likewise, he is able to convey the angst of her classmates who are left feeling confused, guilty and vulnerable while they try to make sense of the tragedy.

And yet Asher is still able to subtly provide answers and lessons, including our moral responsibilities to our fellow human beings, the subtle signs of suicide and how we unknowingly exacerbate it.
Looking back, I stopped writing in my notebook when I stopped wanting to know myself anymore.
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

Perhaps the most powerful scene in the novel revolves around Hannah's last effort to reach out for help from her high school guidance counselor. Asher brilliantly depicts a counselor who wants so badly to help Hannah, but simply cannot because of his inability to see the problem through the eyes of a teenage girl.

There is, as it turns out, no one person to blame for a tragedy like this. Anyone could have stopped it along the way, but tragically no one did.

Our Recommendation
Very highly recommended for both teens and adults. If you have a teen in mind for this book, I would recommend that you (or better yet, their parents) read it first to ensure that the seriousness of the subject matter is, in your view, appropriate for them.

Don't miss the author's awesome blog, The Disco Mermaids!

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
ISBN-13: 978-1595141712
304 pages
Publisher: Razorbill
Date: October 18, 2007

Additional Reviews in BlogLand:

Fizzy Thoughts
The Thin Red Line
S. Krishna's Books
Bookroom Reviews
By The Book Reviews
Fumbling With Fiction
In Bed with Books
Reading and Ruminations
Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them!
pretty to think so
tiny little reading room
Eclectic Obsessions
Hole in the Wall
Book Therapy
Young Adult Book Reviews
The Harmony of Writing


  1. I really want to read this one. I watched the book trailer and it really creeped me out.

  2. Having a child on the precipice of teendom, books like this make me instinctively want to run away, really fast, screaming "no, no, no". But then I will cautiously creep back and pick it up, because I know I must understand these things to survive the next ten years of my life. Thanks for reviewing it for scaredy cats like me!

  3. Seems like I have been seeing this book everywhere! Great review Michele, it sounds like an important, if painful, story.

  4. Oh Michele, this one sounds like a must read, even if as parents we just don't want to go there. This is so rampant today- if only to keep us abreast of it all. Thanks for this review.

  5. On my list of must reads soon. Thanks!

  6. I've seen a couple of reviews of this book and they have all been good. I really want to read it now. Thanks for the great review.

  7. I watched the trailer too and it gave me goosebumps. A scary topic but one that really needs to be brought to light. Loved the review...

  8. Powerful and excellent review. Seriously. I've seen some reviews of this book, and from them I expected that the story would be exactly what you expected; thus I didn't even add it to my stupidly long wish list.

    Your review has made me want to take a second look.

  9. I really want to read this book to the point that I cannot read even one more review of this book *sigh*

  10. Seeing all of these great reviews is pushing me over the edge. I must now read this book.

  11. Really excellent review Michele. I've seen a few reviews of this one and would love to read it. It sounds like a powerful and emotional novel.

  12. Fantastic review. This was such a powerful book, and one that really resonated with me.

  13. Good review! I obviously don't agree, but I think you made good points about the novel.

  14. Thanks for including my blog on your links. I absolutely think this book should be read by all parents and most teenagers. :) It is important to understand how suicide happens and I think Jay Asher does an excellent job of showing an honest and real portrayal.

    Margo Dill
    Read These Books and Use Them

  15. My pleasure Margo -- and I agree re: this is an issue that needs to be better understood, not hidden from.

  16. Thanks for linking to my blog! Great Review!


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