Five Stars for Thirteen Reasons Why

Sarah Kearsley

After receiving a package in the mail, consisting of 13 tapes and a map of the town, Clay Jensen became very confused. When he popped the first tape into his father’s cassette player and began listening, he realized that he was listening to the suicide note of his crush, Hannah Baker. This scene opens Jay Asher’s book Thirteen Reasons Why (2007). This book has won many awards including Best Books for Young Adults, Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice, Barnes & Noble Top 10 Best for Teens, and it was a New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling book.  Anyone who reads this book, will quickly understand why it is so popular.

Jensen found that Baker dedicated each tape to a specific person who played a major role in her life—and in her decision to kill herself. The tapes came with a map of the town, with stars next to certain places. These places were where each of her incidents took place.

In the first tape, listeners learned that Baker had dedicated one tape to each of them. She told them to listen to all of her tapes and, when they were finished, to send them to the next person. If they did not follow her wishes, she warned that an extra copy of the tapes would be released to the public.

Throughout the book, Jensen listened intently to each one of the tapes, waiting fearfully for his own name to come up. While listening, he decided to travel to all of the starred areas, which coincide with the tape he was listening to.

Readers are brought along on this emotional journey that Jensen was forced to face. Thirteen Reasons Why allows every one of its readers to somehow relate to the struggles Hannah Baker dealt with. It makes you feel as though you are facing these hardships along with her. You are able to see through her eyes and feel every emotion that she felt.

After hearing many controversial opinions of this book, I was hesitant to read it. Because the story is based on a teenager’s suicide, I was expecting it to be very dismal. Although it does have its depressing parts, it did not leave me with a discouraged outlook. Instead, it made me understand that every action has a consequence and that standing up for others can be the difference between life and death.