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Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

April 5, 2009


Hannah Baker moved to a new town before her freshman year of high school.  Her parents own and operate a shoe store downtown and became engrossed in the business when a new shopping center opened, taking business from downtown.  Before school started, Hannah met two other students who are also new to town and they helped each other adjust to their new surroundings. Things didn’t start out that well for Hannah and before she knew what hit her, she had a reputation.  Hannah decided she couldn’t go on with the way things were and ended her life.

Before she committed suicide, Hannah Baker recorded some cassette tapes to be delivered to each of the people she blamed for her desire to kill herself.  They also received a map with significant locations starred.  The recipients were instructed to mail the tapes to the next person mentioned or a second set of tapes will be made public.  The book is narrated by Clay Jensen and Hannah (via the cassette tapes).  Clay was a quiet, studious young man who liked Hannah (his name comes up a little over half way through the tapes).  He learned a lot of things about Hannah and other students in his school that he would rather not have known but is also changed (possibly for the better) by them.  One thing that Hannah said that made me think was:

No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people.  Oftentimes, we have no clue.  Yet we push it just the same.

I enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, but I think I’m a little too far removed from the teen scene to understand all of the angst Hannah felt over some of the events in the story.   I’m sure many teens will relate to the feelings portrayed, though.  I think the book is well written and formatted, which made it easy to keep track of the characters and events.   This book would be great for parents to read with their teens or a high school health class to read and discuss.  Two of the warning signs of suicide were mentioned in the story – I was disappointed that a complete list wasn’t included somewhere in the book.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2009 7:16 am

    I remember too well what it was like to be in high school, so I suspect this book rang more true for me, if that makes sense. I agree that a list of suicide warning signs would have been appropriate in the back somewhere, especially if the book is to help raise awareness.

  2. April 5, 2009 7:53 am

    Yes, I agree that more of the signs of suicide should have been more clearly stated, but still I’d like to hope that some awareness was raised.

  3. April 5, 2009 8:06 am

    Great review. I do have the book on hold at the library and am hopeful it will become available in time for the 24-hour read a thon.

    I think you make a very good point that this book would be suitable for parents and teens to read together. I am sure it could provoke some great discussions that might give both parties valuable insight.

  4. April 5, 2009 8:22 am

    What a powerful book. I like how you suggested that parents read it with their teens. Great idea!

  5. Debbie permalink
    April 5, 2009 8:59 am

    Wow what a great review no such a tough subject. I think this is one I will have to buy. I love your blog.

  6. April 5, 2009 9:06 am

    I thought the story line was really good, but I was more impressed with how the story was told. Very creative! I look forward to reading more by Asher.

  7. April 5, 2009 9:07 am

    I have heard of this book. Your review really makes me want to read it. Thanks.

  8. April 5, 2009 9:29 am

    Great review. Sounds like a good choice for parents and teens to share.

  9. April 5, 2009 9:35 am

    I have been on the fence about reading this one. Maybe I’ll wait until my kids are a little older and read it with them as you suggest. Thanks for the review!

  10. April 5, 2009 9:43 am

    I’m curious about this book. I’ve heard/read some great reviews, but my manager absolutely did not like it at all.

  11. April 5, 2009 10:22 am

    This sounds like a really good book. Shame to hear that the list wasn’t fully in there but I’ll just have to keep track as I’m reading through. Great review (=

  12. stacybuckeye permalink
    April 5, 2009 11:19 am

    This is already on my list! That is too bad that it didn’t include all of the warning signs.

  13. April 5, 2009 12:00 pm

    I’ve seen this one around a lot but never really knew what it was about until now. Sounds like a really heartbreaking book–teenage suicide is a tough subject.

  14. April 5, 2009 12:56 pm

    Thank you for the great review, Kathy. I was just visiting Meghan’s blog and read her review. This sounds like such a powerful book. I am surprised there isn’t a list of signs to watch out for in regards to suicide considering how well the book addresses the topic.

  15. April 5, 2009 3:07 pm

    I live with teenage angst. I think I can skip reading about it for now!

  16. April 5, 2009 4:04 pm

    You are so right that the list of signs to watch for was a glaring omission.

  17. April 5, 2009 4:48 pm

    I have been seeing this book reviewed a lot lately. I think I will have to read this one.

    BTW, you have an award waiting for you. 🙂

  18. April 5, 2009 7:05 pm

    I read this book last year based on a recommendation from an 8th grade girl who was currently reading it. I found it to be wonderfully written and most certainly a book that pre-teens and teens would identify with. I agree with you in regards to a more thorough list of signs to watch more could’ve been added to the back of the book. Overall, Asher did a great job giving us an inside look at suicide from different perspectives.

  19. April 5, 2009 7:26 pm

    This is such an important topic for teens to be discussing with adults, and I agree that there should be a full list of warning signs in the book. I haven’t decided yet whether or not I am going to read this book.

  20. April 5, 2009 8:17 pm

    Tough subject to deal with but better than hiding your head in the sand. I’m glad there are some good books like this. My oldest daughter witnessed a classmate in high school commit suicide (he jumped off the school roof) and it was devastating for everyone. No one talked about the possibility of suicide in those days. Thanks for the good review.

  21. April 5, 2009 9:21 pm

    I’m so sorry that I missed the discussion. This was such a powerful book!

  22. April 5, 2009 9:43 pm

    i read about this book on another blog…and work with teenagers on a daily basis, so i live the drama each day. this book sounds like something i’d be interested in reading. thanks for the review!

  23. April 5, 2009 11:17 pm

    I remember what it was like to be a teen but what I felt then can’t possibly be compared to what I believe teens have to deal with today. It’s an entirely different world. I probably would not be able to relate to the book very well either.

  24. April 5, 2009 11:22 pm

    I am absolutely dying to read this book! If you decide you want to part with it let me know. Maybe we could arrange a trade or something.

  25. April 6, 2009 12:17 am

    I read this book over a year ago and the melodrama bugged me at the time. I thought that she overreacted to several things that somebody else would have let slide off their back–but then, isn’t that often the case with depression? It’s like everything is viewed through those gray lenses, and minor problems can seem insurmountable. This is one of those books that, the more distance I get from it, the more I appreciate it.

  26. April 6, 2009 11:08 am

    I’ve seen a few reviews of this book and have often thought to get it from the library and read it. Tough subject.

  27. April 6, 2009 1:32 pm

    i read this book towards the end of last year and I really liked it. I liked the way the story was told, I liked the message that little things and seemingly meaningless incidents can all build up and result in something drastic.

  28. April 6, 2009 4:36 pm

    I’ve been meaning to read this too, but I could well have the same disconnect as you had.

  29. April 6, 2009 6:10 pm

    Very interesting review. The part you describe about passing along the tape to the next person on the list almost sounds like a chain letter to me. I hadn’t heard of this book before, I’ll check it out now.

  30. April 6, 2009 9:08 pm

    Great review–I’ve been wanting to read this for a while.

  31. April 6, 2009 9:34 pm

    This sounds like a book I’d enjoy reading.

  32. April 6, 2009 11:26 pm

    Great review. I really enjoyed our discussion of this one.

  33. April 6, 2009 11:36 pm

    I recently read this book too. While I thought it was a good story I sometimes found it annoying to switch voices so quickly. Someone told me that it was very good on audio and easier to sort it out since different people were doing the voices. I don’t listen to a lot of books on tape (I tend to drift off instead of paying attention and then have to rewind!) but I might get this one to compare it. It’s definitely an important topic. I almost lost a teenage cousin to suicide. Fortunately he didn’t succeed with his overdose and is now a very happy 30 year-old who is married with two small children.

  34. April 7, 2009 12:31 pm

    This sounds like a really intense book.

  35. April 7, 2009 9:54 pm

    This one was recommended to me on audio and it’s now on my wishlist. Thanks for the review!

  36. April 7, 2009 10:04 pm

    I’ve seen a few reviews of this book and each one makes me want to check it out more. I like your comment about how the “reasons” might seem a bit unrelatable to us “older” folks … but I do remember the drama of being a teenager and having no perspective on things. Sounds like a good book for teenagers to read and be aware of.

  37. April 8, 2009 10:56 am

    I plan to read this one sometime this upcoming summer

  38. April 23, 2009 2:47 pm

    I don’t really read books about teens, but this one sounds unique. I’ll have to keep it in mind.

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