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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Words have the power—the inexplicable ability—to do any thing we want them to do. We can use words to do good things unto others; and, unfortunately, we can use words to do harm unto others. The Good News Translation of the Bible says in Proverbs 15:4, “Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush your spirit”. Moreover, actions speak louder than words. I know that may sound too cliché; nevertheless, it is immensely true. Jay Asher demonstrates this truth with his novel 13 Reasons Why. Everything we say and do affects every person around us, regardless of the time we spend with them. Every action and word plays a major role in the lives of those around.

One day after coming home from school, Clay Jensen receives an old shoebox full of cassette tapes, each marked with a number from one to thirteen. As soon as he listens to the first tape, his life changes completely. The voice that emerges is the voice of Hannah Baker, a girl who recently committed suicide by overdosing on pills. Moreover, Hannah Baker was not just any girl to Clay; Hannah was Clay’s dream girl. On tape, Hannah begins to explain the reason(s) for her sending the tapes. She says that the day after she dies would be the day the box would be sent to the first person that she chose to receive the tapes. Every person she chooses to receive the box will understand why he or she will receive this mysterious box of cassettes with her voice narrating her reasons of her death. Every person mentioned in the thirteen tapes constituted her suicide. Thirteen reasons, thirteen people caused her suicide so she says. During the whole afternoon and night, Clay, listening to the tapes, travels to each place Hannah had marked on a map that she sent in the box along with the tapes. Clay dreads to listen to the cassette holding his part of the thirteen reasons for Hannah’s suicide. Yet, at the same time, he desires to unravel the reasons behind the death of the girl he wanted with all his heart. Hannah pours her heart out as she uncovers all her secrets and the secrets of her school alumni.

Jay Asher creates a haunting story with this debut young adult novel. The story of Hannah Baker is one that will make the reader’s skin crawl and leave them trying to process every reason. Asher perfectly times every reason, building so much momentum along the way that reader will be wondering, after reading the novel, how the human heart is capable of awful atrocities against another fellow human being. Likewise, he reveals the sometimes inevitable and irrevocable effects of bullying.

One of the things that I did not enjoy about reading this novel was how Clay Jensen constantly interrupted Hannah’s narrative. Often, he was primarily concerned as to why he was one of the reasons of Hannah’s suicide that I felt frustrated with him for acting narcissistic. At times, I felt as though he did not care about Hannah overall but instead he whined and tried unceasingly to guess the reason for his being included in Hannah’s tapes. “Let Hannah tell you why you are a reason,” I would constantly repeat as I read the novel. I felt that Clay would sometimes take away Hannah’s thunder, so to say. He wanted to become the victim rather than understanding why Hannah committed suicide. Furthermore, when he does discover the truth for his being included in her posthumous cassettes, he tries to blame Hannah for her suicide, which understandably is true; but at the same time, her death would not have happened if not for the thirteen reasons she explains in her tapes.

Jay Asher uses a unique and original technique in his novel of shifting from Clay’s perspective to Hannah’s posthumous perspective. Addtitionally his choosing to use cassette tapes rather than any modern technology, I believe, is one of the reasons this novel is worth reading. His prose is everyday language, nothing complicated. The novel is rather an easy read, but one that is unforgettable. Likewise, the end of Thirteen Reasons Why to me is full of hope—an end that promises a better tomorrow to make things better with those around us.

The film rights of Thirteen Reasons Why have been sold. Selena Gomez has been cast to play Hannah Baker. And Logan Lerman is rumored to play Clay Jensen. However, as of so far, everything concerning the film is under-development.




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This article has 10 comments. Post your own!

TheSkyOwesMeRainThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 29 at 6:51 pm:
I totally agree! I just recently read this book, and it brought tears to my eyes, especially the ending! :'( But I do agree with you that sometimes Clay was too "worried" about why he was on the list. I mean, we get that it's supposed to be his thoughts, and he's confused and all, but it really is annoying to the reader. Also, I thought it was kind of ironic that his was the only tape which didn't convey Hannah's anger or hatred or anything. I wonder how the other c... (more »)
 
MckayThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 30 at 2:06 pm :
First and Foremost, Thank you for commenting.  Second, thank you for agreeing with me on Clay. I felt as though he messed up the novel sometimes, even though it was his perspective really. But Hannah was the star of the novel. R.I.P. Hannah Baker. Third, I did wonder what the other characters thought of Clay, since Hannah showed no anger towards him. Me, I would've been annoyed. Since Clay is kind of—KIND OF—because everyone makes their own choice like Hannah did—h... (more »)
 
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Laugh-it-OutThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 21 at 9:04 pm:
This actually one of my favorite books. i cried when  read it and i cry when i think about it. it is absolulty superb! as for the review, i thought that it was thoughtful and well written. since i have read the book already, i agree with you that clay seems to care more about his part in it that Hannahs feelings, and i felt that he needed to appreciate her more. overall another great review!  
 
MckayThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 22 at 2:07 pm :
YES!!! I knew I wasn't the only person in this world to think Clay was somewhat of an inconsiderate jerk when it came to Hannah's death. So I'm not cray-cray. Thank you for liking the review. 
 
Laugh-it-OutThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Apr. 30 at 6:36 pm :
Hey Mckay!!! Just got the TeenInk Magazine today and I saw your Review for To Kill A Mockingbird in ther!!! Congrats! I am so happy for you! Second, i have been wanting to read this book again. I don't know, i just keep coming back to these reviews. Keep rockin
 
MckayThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
yesterday at 1:48 pm :
Awww, Thanks. I was surprised to have the article published as well. Thanks. And do read this book again. It's worth it...when Clay isn't being a baby. That's how I feel. Although I should give him some credit...
 
Laugh-it-OutThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
yesterday at 9:10 pm :
Yeah, and I did start re reading it again today. Zi only read hannas tapes though because clay is annoying, but guarenteed I wouldd do the same. Haha
 
MckayThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
today at 2:08 pm :
Yeah. I think we all would. Either way, it's compelling to read. R.I.P. Hannah Baker. 
 
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Cutey-BeautyThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 18 at 12:19 am:
I actually have this book, and it's one of my favorites. :) Thanks for putting this up! Hope more people can read it. Enjoyed reading your thoughts.
 
MckayThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 18 at 12:42 pm :
Thank you for liking this review. I'm thinking of re-editing it and posting it again. I was bummed out when it didn't get the almighty Editors' Choice and then to top it off someone gave me one star without any explanation :/ . But, at least someone appreciates this review. Thanks.
 
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