Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

ThirteenReasonsWhyTitleThirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher

ISBN: 978-1-59514-188-0

Publication Date: 2007

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Reading Level/Interest Age: 14 and up

Plot: Clay Jensen receives a shoebox filled with 7 cassette tapes when he returns home each side marked in numerical order and Clay wonders what they all contain. Managing to find a stereo with audio tape capability, he listens to the first tape and cannot believe that the recorded voice is the recently passed Hannah Baker who committed suicide. Apparently each side of the cassettes focuses on a specific individual who had a part to play that led to her gradual state of depression and Clay was one of them. Horrified by this realization, he does all that he can to complete the entire set in order to figure out what his role was that made her take her life.

Critical Evaluation: The events that are spoken through the voice of Hannah should be taken very seriously because of the lasting effects they can have. Every occurrence that leads to Hannah’s breaking point takes a toll on her and yet no one never even stopped to think about how their actions had done so much. Luckily for Clay, Hannah confesses saying that he does not deserve to be on the tapes, or at least not in the same category as the others that are mentioned, but his inability to pursue a great friendship and possible relationship with Hannah was the reason why she had recorded about him. Asher has opened the eyes of many through the eyes (in this case, voice) of a suicide victim. Also, making Clay the protagonist and his influence on Hannah explains to readers that stepping back from or avoiding a troubled friend can indirectly hurt the person. Similar to the other cases where their actions directly affected Hannah, doing nothing or not getting involved can be just as bad.

Reader’s Annotation: Seven recorded tapes by the recently passed Hannah Baker are at Clay Jensen’s front porch to explain to him how he was one of the thirteen reasons why she committed suicide.

Author: Retrieved from the official website of Thirteen Reasons Why

JAY ASHER has worked at an independent bookstore, an outlet bookstore, a chain bookstore, and two public libraries. He hopes, someday, to work for a used bookstore. When he is not writing, Jay plays guitar and goes camping. Thirteen Reasons Why is his first published novel

Curriculum Ties:

  • Teen suicide
  • Bullying

Booktalking Ideas:

  • How would you change your habits if you were on those tapes?
  • What would you do if you noticed a potential suicide victim?

Challenging Issues:

  • Suicide
  • Profanity
  • Sexual content

Defensive Maneuvers:

  • I would be sure to study and memorize the library’s collection policy.
  • The Library Bill of Rights must also be brought to the challenger’s attention stating that the library is an information institution that provides both information and ideas.
  • Have both good and bad reviews (from respected sources) about the book at hand.
  • Remember to mention the awards and honors that the item has received.
  • Be sure to listen to the person who is challenging the book and do not interrupt them while they are speaking. Try to understand where the patron is coming from when he or she states their concerns about the material.
  • When you respond to the challenger, have a calm and respectable tone informing them that the library must do all that it can to provide intellectual freedom to its patrons, young and old.

Why This Movie? I was moved after reading this book. The unique style of how Asher uses recorded tapes to portray the victim is quite different and interesting.

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