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Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Pub Deets: 2007, Razorbill
Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Source:  Purchased

Clay receives a box of cassette tapes (yes, apparently they are still around) from his classmate and crush Hannah...who died by suicide two weeks ago. there are 7 cassette tapes with a total of 13 recordings on them - the 13 reasons why Hannah gave up.

Hannah was the new girl her freshman year, with a clean slate. she was funny, smart, pretty, and socially capable of doing pretty well for herself. She makes friends with the other 2 new kids that year, and they find themselves supporting each other as newbies while spreading their wings socially among the other students. And that's about the end of what goes right for Hannah. Her two 'closest' friends betray her and a path of seemingly unrelated events and rumors tear her down piece by piece until she can't stand it anymore.

Clay is the latest recipient of the tapes that Hannah recorded the day before she died. He can't remember a single malicious thing he did to her, in fact, he was pretty smitten with her so he can't figure out why he would be one of Hannah's 13 reasons. But in order to find out, he has to listen to all the tapes in order, hearing each other person/reason why. Each story is heartbreaking and hauntingly familiar to clay. He saw/heard the rumors Hannah is talking about but is hearing the truth from her now. The way he sees his classmates, his town, his teachers, even himself, changes with each tape he plays.

This was a very emotionally exhausting read. Asher was able to create characters and stories through a storytelling mechanism WITHIN a book...wowsa. The distance they were removed from the reader did not affect my ability to connect with Hannah or clay at all. Hannah isn't the tragic portrait you'd imagine, and at times the things that happen to her feel overwhelming, and perhaps just the teensiest bit exaggerated. However, I feel like it's definitely plausible that rumors snowball and create reputations that affect others actions and ultimately all of those actions+rumors+actions can crush a person. like they do to Hannah.

While a bit heavy handed, Asher makes a good point with an incredible story. Clay's desperation is so real and his hurt is felt so deeply. even Hannah, whose voice is portrayed through the tapes and in italics through the story (which wove in very nicely) is incredibly genuine. His social statement is well taken, and his storytelling is suspenseful, funny, and desperate all at the same time.

"Like driving along a bumpy road and losing control of the steering wheel, tossing you - just a tad - off the road. The wheels kick up some dirt, but you're able to pull it back. Yet no matter how tightly you grip the wheel, no matter how hard you try to drive straight, something keeps jerking you to the side. You have so little control over anything anymore. And at some point, the struggle becomes too much - too tiring - and you consider letting to. Allowing tragedy...or whatever...to happen." (Hannah 124)

I had a hard time figuring out what to make of the role and purpose of Clay's mom in the story. She popped up here and there, always supportive and loving...but felt awkwardly placed within the overall story.

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. maybe Clay's mom kept popping up so the story wasn't a total downer?

  2. hey, have you seen these videos? someone has been making hannah's tapes and posting them to youtube. they are up to tape 4.


  3. i didn't know about the hannah tapes on youtube! thanks!


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