Thirteen Reasons Why
Hannah in the park, the place she had her first kiss.
|Cover artist||Christian Fuenfhausen|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.A8155 Th 2008|
Thirteen Reasons Why (stylized as TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY) is a 2007 New York Times best-selling young-adult fiction novel written by Jay Asher. The book was published by RazorBill, a young adult imprint of Penguin Books. The paperback edition hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in July 2011. In May 2011, a website called 13RWProject.com launched where fans of the book can record their reviews and experiences as text, photo or video. Jay Asher's book has been published in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Lithuania, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Greece, United Kingdom, Australia, Finland, Lebanon, Estonia and Vietnam.
Clay Jensen, a quiet, shy high school student, returns home from school one day to find a package from an anonymous person sitting on his doorstep. Upon opening it, he discovers that it is a shoe box containing seven cassette tapes recorded by the late Hannah Baker, his classmate and emotionally damaged crush who recently committed suicide by taking a handful of pills. The tapes were initially mailed to one classmate with instructions to pass them from one student to another, in the style of a chain letter, starting from the one involved in the first story to the last. On the tapes, Hannah explains to twelve people how they played a role in her death, by giving thirteen reasons (for one of the people Hannah poses two reasons for her death) explaining why she took her life. Hannah has given a second set of tapes to one of their classmates, the identity of whom Clay later discovers, and warns the people on the tapes that if they do not pass them on, the second set will be leaked to the entire student body.
Through the audio narrative, Hannah reveals her pain and suffering during a downward spiral into depression that ultimately leads to her death. She lists her first kiss, two former friends, a peeping Tom, a liar, a goof who takes advantage of her, a hater, a thief who steals her poems, a member of the list that had already been mentioned, a cheerleader who crashes into a stop sign, a guy she had a sexual encounter with, the guidance counselor, and Clay himself. It all started with a rumor, which sparked a snowball effect. As time went on, the snowball became larger, as did the lies that came with it. They all thought their actions were harmless, but they were wrong. At the time, never knew of the repercussions that could have happened. Hannah's tapes will haunt them forever and show them that every action has an unimagined effect on someone, whether they like it or not.
Clay's friend, Tony, is found to have kept the second set of tapes to be released if they don't comply with her rules. Clay then passes the tapes on to Jenny, after discovering that he was not involved in Hannah's death and she did not blame him.
The first to receive the list is Justin. He was a year older than Hannah, and her first crush in her new town. Justin was Hannah's first kiss. She describes having a reoccurring dream of her sliding down a slide in the park and into her kiss. After dreaming about kissing him, she finally kisses him, but Justin turns it into a rumor that it was a sexual encounter and she earns a low reputation. A rumor travels around the school that at the park, she got felt up by Justin, which was false. They break up after one month.
Justin later appears as reason ten of why Hannah killed herself- at the party where Hannah and Clay bonded and kissed, he allows his friend (presumably Bryce Walker, reason 12) to rape Jessica. Hannah comes to feel guilty for the rape and is disgusted at the fact that she didn't find the voice to stop Bryce, nor did Justin.
The second is Alex. Alex wrote a list of people of who was hot or not in the freshman class at her school. He published the list and it was discovered that Hannah earned the title of the best ass, ahead of Jessica (who was in the "not" column). It is later revealed that Alex put them together for revenge against Jessica for embarrassing him at their first meeting at Monet's, a local cafe.
The third is Jessica. As she, Hannah, and Alex were new their freshman year, the three of them would always meet at Monet's to chat. After Hannah beat her on Alex's list, she slaps her and scarred her over her eyebrow by digging her nails into Hannah's forehead. People started gossiping about her once again. The scar is a physical manifestation of the internal scars Hannah feels inside. She is later raped by Bryce while she is drunk and unconscious. She never would have found out if not for the tapes.
The fourth is Tyler. Tyler is the peeping Tom, a renowned photographer for the yearbook. He took photos of her when she was in her room so she invites Courtney over to stop him. After the two girls mime having a dirty conversation complete with a back rub, they snap open the curtains to see the figure of Tyler running away. Tyler takes away the safety of Hannah's home, leaving her to feel trapped.
The fifth is Courtney. Courtney was known as the sweetest girl in school but she started a rumor about Hannah after they stop the peeping tom. Courtney then uses Hannah to get a ride to a party and to help keep up her image, for the reason Courtney is nice is because she wants people to vote her most liked; and to keep her image up. She never had any interest in being Hannah's friend.
The sixth is Marcus, the boy who threw rocks at Tyler's window. After a Valentine's Day program the school has where you complete a quiz and your results show who your perfect match would be, Marcus gets Hannah on his list, so he asks Hannah out. When they are on their date at the local burger place, Rosie's, Marcus tries to take advantage of her though she pushes him away. He calls her a tease loudly and leaves, angry. This is where Hannah realizes she has no control over her life anymore and becomes depressed, seriously considering ending her own life.
The seventh is Zach. Zach came up to Hannah when Marcus leaves in an attempt to comfort her (thought she later realizes he only came because his friends dared him to). He sits next to her for a little while, though she doesn't talk to him. Soon he stands up and leaves. Then in Hannah's favourite class, Peer Communications, each student has a pouch at the back of the room where other people in the class can write down compliments to their classmates and slip them into that person's bag anonymously. Zach is angry that Hannah didn't speak to him at Rosie's so takes out all the little slips she is given. Eventually Hannah catches him though he just runs off as if nothing has happened. She confronts him in the hallways in tears, making a fool of herself. The notes are truly the only form of contact Hannah has left with most of her classmates, and though she ends up writing them to herself, she feels that Zach wants her to have no form of encouragement.
In Peer Communications, Hannah leaves an anonymous note for the teacher that she is considering suicide. The class discusses it, not knowing who had written it. The responses are all tinged with annoyance until one student says that since the person who wrote the note didn't leave their name, they couldn't take it seriously.
Eight is Ryan, the editor of the Lost N Found column in the school newspaper. After taking a poetry class with Hannah, he steals a poem of hers that he puts in his column, called "Soul Alone". English classes around the school examine it, but people figure out Hannah wrote it and mock her for it, reading scathing parodies to her before class. Ryan causes Hannah to feel that even her thoughts aren't hers and aren't safe.
While he is listening to the tapes Tony tells Clay that his story is next and offers to drive him around while he listens to the tape.
Hannah explains that Clay was probably the nicest person she had met. She never heard anybody saying anything bad about him. So one night at a party they finally talk after years of knowing each other, but casually. Hannah says that on that night she and Clay connected. They end up talking for hours, then eventually going up to a bedroom where they kiss. They stay in the room for a while though Hannah is scared that Clay will betray her just like Justin. She starts shouting at Clay to leave her and at first Clay tries to protest, though eventually he just leaves and Hannah breaks down crying.
Clay is shocked and asks Tony how he got the tapes. He learns that Hannah asked Tony for some tapes and a tape recorder. Tony gives them to her not knowing why she would need them. Soon he is mailed the set of tapes on the same day that Hannah dies. There is no note left there though Tony realizes that he's the second person to be given the tapes and keeps an eye out to see if the tapes are passed on.
Clay thanks him for driving him around and then Tony leaves to go home while Clay continues to listen to the tapes. He comes upon number ten, which is again Justin, this time for allowing Bryce to rape Jessica. Hannah was hiding in a closet and witnessed it but also didn't have the guts to do anything.
Number eleven is Jenny, the cheerleader who brags to her friends about setting up Marcus and Hannah. She offers Hannah a ride home after the disastrous party, only to crash into a stop sign. When Hannah tries to call the police, Jenny, not wanting to get in trouble, kicks her out of the car. There is a car accident later caused by the missing stop sign which kills a senior at their high-school. At this point Hannah feels guilty for not calling the police before.
Hannah is depressed, upset, and seriously considering the ways to kill herself when number twelve comes along. Though Hannah didn't go to Courtney's latest party, she was house-sitting at a house near Courtney's and ends up at the after party, where Courtney and Bryce are in Courtney's hot tub in their underwear. Hannah strips to hers and joins them, and Bryce sexually touched Hannah, who for once feels helpless and gives into her undeserved reputation. Courtney turns a blind eye.
The last reason is Mr. Porter, her English teacher and counselor. Hannah records this conversation, where she turns to him for help and expresses her thoughts of suicide. He tells her that if she doesn't want to press charges against Bryce (which she can't), she should simply just move on. Hannah leaves his office at this and he does nothing to get her back in there, even knowing she wants to kill herself. The last sentence Hannah says on her tapes is "Thank You".
Clay goes to school the next day unable to stop thinking about Hannah and runs into Skye, his middle school crush who is showing the signs of suicide. Brushing past a classmate and a class he knows he should be in, Clay turns to her and says "Skye".
Author's comments on writing
In an interview, Jay Asher commented, "Writing this book made me realize how fascinated I am by the way people interact... and the obstacles that keep us from understanding each other better."
- 2011 - Paperback edition became a #1 New York Times bestseller in the US
- 2010 - Georgia Peach Book Awards for Teen Readers 
- 2009 - International Reading Association Young Adults' Choice list 
- 2009 - Writing Conference's Literature Festival 
- 2008 - Best Books for Young Adults YALSA 
- 2008 - Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers YALSA 
- 2008 - Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults YALSA 
- 2008 - California Book Award winner - Young Adult 
- Borders Original Voices finalist
- Barnes & Noble - Top 10 Best for Teens
- Chicago Public Library Best Books
- Association of Booksellers for Children - Best Books
- New York Times Best Seller for 90 weeks
- Kirkus Reviews Editors Choice 
- Schwartz, Terri (9 Feb 2011). "Selena Gomez To Star In '13 Reasons Why': Movie, adapted from Jay Asher's young adult novel, looks back at a girl's reasons for committing suicide.". MTV News. Retrieved 11 Apr 2012.
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- "YALSA 2008 Best Books for Young Adults". Young Adult Library Services Association. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
- "YALSA 2008 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers". Young Adult Library Services Association. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
- "YALSA 2008 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults". Young Adult Library Services Association. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
- "77th ANNUAL CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS WINNERS IN BRIEF". commonwealthclub.org. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
- "THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher". Kirkus Reviews. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2013.