Synopses & Reviews
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.
"This uncommonly polished debut opens on a riveting scenario: 13 teenagers in a small town have each been designated to listen, in secret, to a box of audiotapes recorded by their classmate Hannah and mailed on the very day she commits suicide. 'I'm about to tell you the story of my life,' she says. 'More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why.' Clay, the narrator, receives the tapes a few weeks after the suicide (each listener must send the box to the next, and Hannah has built in a plan to make sure her posthumous directions are followed), and his initial shock turns to horror as he hears the dead girl implicate his friends and acquaintances in various acts of callousness, cruelty or crime. Asher expertly paces the narrative, splicing Hannah's tale with Clay's mounting anxiety and fear. Just what has he done? Readers won't be able to pull themselves away until that question gets answered no matter that the premise is contrived and the plot details can be implausible. The author gets all the characters right, from the popular girl who wants to insure her status to the boy who rapes an unconscious girl at a party where the liquor flows too freely, and the veneer of authenticity suffices to hide the story's flaws. Asher knows how to entertain an audience; this book will leave readers eager to see what he does next. Ages 13-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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." School Library Journal
"It is a fast read and will keep you on the edge of your seat, as you read on to find out more about the circumstances surrounding Hannah's death." Alan Review
"This provocative tale touches on universal topics of interest, is genuine in its message, and would be a good choice for high school book discussions and booktalks." VOYA
"[C]hallenging and interesting." Children's Literature
"[A] compelling reading." Booklist
“Everything affects everything,” declares Hannah Baker, who killed herself two weeks ago. After her death, Clay Jensen—who had a crush on Hannah—finds seven cassette tapes in a brown paper package on his doorstep. Listening to the tapes, Hannah chronicles her downward spiral and the 13 people who led her to make this horrific choice. Evincing the subtle—and not so subtle—cruelties of teen life, from rumors, to reputations, to rape, Hannah explains to her listeners that, “in the end, everything matters.” Most of the novel quite literally takes place in Clay’s head, as he listens to Hannah’s voice pounding in his ears through his headphones, creating a very intimate feel for the reader as Hannah explains herself. Her pain is gut-wrenchingly palpable, and the reader is thrust face-first into a world where everything is related, an intricate yet brutal tapestry of events, people and places. Asher has created an entrancing character study and a riveting look into the psyche of someone who would make this unfortunate choice. A brilliant and mesmerizing debut from a gifted new author.—Kirkus, starred review
About the Author
Jay Asher is the author of the young adult novels The Future Of Us and Thirteen Reasons Why. Thirteen Reasons Why, his first novel, was published in hardcover in October 2007, going on to spend 65 weeks on the New York Times children's hardcover bestseller list, with foreign rights into 31 countries and 750,000 copies currently in print in the US alone. Visit his blog at www.jayasher.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jayasherguy.