Book Review: “Thirteen Reasons Why”

Cover of "Thirteen Reasons Why"

Cover of Thirteen Reasons Why

“Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

GoodreadsSource: Library

Summary from Goodreads:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen 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.


This is an incredibly powerful book. It’s pretty hard to sum up my thoughts on it but I will try.

Thirteen Reasons Why deals with the difficult issue of teen suicide. Even more difficult, it deals with how someone gets to that point. It’s not an overnight process. It’s not a flip of a switch. It’s something that builds on itself over time. I thought it was really interesting hearing about all the individual people involved.  Maybe some of the things these people did weren’t “bad enough” to get Hannah to this point. If they were an individual, isolated incident, I would agree that they were horrible but something that could be coped with. But the thing with bullying, tormenting, and downright hateful teenage behavior is it’s never an isolated incident. Things always build and snowball out of control.

This book reminded me a lot of Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes. You really stop and think about how you were in high school. You might not have meant to be hurtful with what you said to someone but it did hurt them. Or worse, you DID mean to hurt them but you had no idea what else they were going through. I’m so glad I’m not a teenager anymore and for the most part my peers are past this nasty stage.

I thought the idea of going back and forth between Hannah and Clay was a cool narrative tool. I did find it confusing in places though. There were times I had to reread a passage several times because I didn’t understand what was going on with Clay. Maybe it could have wrote more clearly? The writing style was great though. I found myself flying through the book in an afternoon.

The bottom line? It’s a difficult book content wise but absolutely worth a read.

9 thoughts on “Book Review: “Thirteen Reasons Why”

  1. I sort of had a hard time with this one. I listened to the audiobook of it and the actors were fantastic; I really enjoyed it. But I felt a little conflicted about Hannah. I wanted to feel sorry for her, I wanted to hate all the people who had hurt her… there were some I did hate, but I think I hated Hannah because she wasn’t strong enough to overcome everything, to find help. I hated her because she blamed these 13 people for her suicide and didn’t once look at herself. But there’s the conflict: can you hate someone for not being strong enough, especially when that person’s only 15 or 16? I think as an adult reading (or listening) to this I was able to think “Why didn’t you recognize you needed help and ask for it?!” because this is what I, as an adult, am able to do when I know I need help. But I guess for a teenager this is different; maybe they aren’t mature enough to handle things that build up, to know what the signs are when they need to ask for help, etc.

    Whoa… didn’t mean to comment that much! 🙂

    • I understand what you mean. I was screaming “Go ask for help!” at the book quite often. When will teenagers learn that asking for help isn’t weak?

      Great thoughts, Candice!

  2. This is one book I am going to pass on… the character assigning blame to anyone other than herself or to a mental illness for her suicide makes me uncomfortable and I don’t want to go into a book knowing I’ll have major qualms with the premise!

  3. Pingback: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher Audiobook Review « The Reading Date

  4. I thought this could’ve been a much better book, one that could’ve been used to educate younger people about the problems other teenagers face in day to day life when we lack empathy or compassion. Instead, I found the main character to be totally weak and wishy washy (And I was fifteen when I read this book) I think there’s a reason that she didn’t get help: she was looking for a reason to kill herself. (Spoiler Alert!) When she goes to her final “reason” she blames him, and his actions on her ultimate decision to commit suicide. For me this was a copout for blame, and I truly believe she didn’t want his help because she had already made up her mind to kill herself, just like when (Spoiler Alert!) she let that boy “Rape” her, just another reason to kill herself. And why? Just so she could get back at all the people who made her life miserable. I wanted to slap her the deeper I got into the story. I almost had no sympathy for her toward the end.

  5. Wow, thanks for posting a link to my review 🙂 I didn’t actually notice this until today, but it means a lot 😀

    I agree with your review, it’s a very powerful book, but like many of the other commenters, I’d have to agree that Hannah was just looking for an excuse to kill herself. But honestly, I didn’t want to put it down in the review because suicide is a serious issue, and I didn’t want to make those contemplating suicide feel worse/more pushed to suicide because of my words.

    For some reason, I identified with Hannah more than I did with Clay (I’m not suicidal–just a bit of a pessimist 😛 ), but I found her very weak. Maybe she represents the weakness in all of us? Just delving further with this 😉

    Great review!

    • You’re welcome!

      I could see her representing our weakness. Sometimes it’s easier to blames others rather than blame ourselves. It’s not the ideal thing to do but it’s easy to understand how someone could do that.

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