Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Bibliographic Information: Asher, Jay.  (2007).  Th1rteen r3asons why.  New York: Penguin Group.
ISBN: 978-1-59514-171-2

Plot Summary: 

“A rumor based on a kiss started a reputation that other people believed  in and reacted to. And sometimes, a rumor based on a kiss has a snowball effect. A rumor, based on a kiss, is just the beginning” (pp. 30-31)

Hannah Baker, a young high school student, decides to commit suicide after a giant "snowball effect" of lies, rumors, and bullying pushes her to the brink of no return. Feeling completely alone, alienated, and betrayed by her peers, Hannah carefully plans how she will die and what she will leave behind as her last words.Hannah realizes that she is responsible for what has happened, but wants others to know that what they do affects others.
                                          “Everything…affects everything” (p. 202)

Clay Jensen, the second narrator of the story, is introduced in the story when he unexpectedly receives a mysterious package at his house. The package is carefully packed with a series of tapes that are numbered with nail polish. Not knowing what to expect, Clay begins listening to the first tape marked 1. He shockingly realizes that the voice coming through the speakers is Hannah, his classmate and recent suicide victim. Spending the whole evening listening to the tapes and mapping out each of the events that lead to Hannah's death, Clay learns that there were 13 reasons why (or people) that somehow contributed to her demise-- including himself.

Critical Evaluation:
The cassette tapes are an extremely important component in the plot of 
Th1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY; becoming Hannah's ultimate vehicle of expression. Throughout the book, Hannah Baker felt powerless and without a voice in the last days of her life. The constant bullying and rumors robbed her of any defenses and basically forced her to internalize the trauma that she experienced day in and day out. One of the themes that is constantly repeated throughout the book is that "everything...affects everything" (p. 202). In this way, the tapes become Hannah's last chance to affect change in her own life as she has been unable to do for so long. Hannah's recorded voice becomes her metaphorical voice which finally rises to protect her and set the record straight. Although this action comes with a price, because only in death is she able to speak for herself. In this way, gaining her voice came at the price of her actual voice.The tapes become the bits and pieces of herself that she could never share with others, the pieces that made her who she really was. Even in death, Hannah lives true to the fact that "everything...affects everything" (p. 202). Although some may think her words are too late, for Hannah- they are the only words that ever mattered.

Extra resources:

Hannah's Reasons Blog


Reader’s Annotation:
Hannah Baker knew the truth. Everything affects everything, everyone affects everyone, and sometimes the consequences are tragic.

Information About the Author:
Jay Asher has written two YA novels to date and continues to work on publishing more ( Author, 2012). His debut novel,
TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY, received over 10 awards and has gone on to receive a movie deal ( The Book, 2012).

Jay Asher grew up in Arcadia, California, only briefly leaving California to live in Wyoming for a short period of time (Asher, 2012). He states that he got the idea for TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY while living in Wyoming (Asher, 2012). Before becoming an author, Asher worked a variety of odd jobs that included a records store, trophy store, a couple libraries, and a few retail spots (Asher, 2012). Asher looks forward to writing many more novels in the future. 

Contemporary, Mystery

Subgenre: Suicide and Self Destruction

Curriculum Ties
: Can include it in a section on mental health, bullying, and suicide prevention.

Booktalking Ideas:
1). Do you think Clay Jensen could have saved Hannah?
2). What are the affects of rumors, bullying, and alienation on Hannah? 

3). Was Hannah to blame for most of what happened to her?

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY Discussion Guide

Reading Level/Interest Age: Lexile Reading Level: 550/YA (Follett's Titltewave, 2012)

Challenge Issues: Includes serious discussions on suicide, rape, underage drinking, and sex. I would use the following items to defend this book if it was challenged:

1) Refer to Library Bill of Rights, see items: I, II, and III (
2) Refer to San Diego Public Library collection policy - (  Original site: The American Library Association (ALA) Freedom to Read/View Statement (
3) Refer to California School Library Association (CSLA), Model School Library Standards - September 2010 ( PDF: (
4) Refer t0 American Association for School, Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner (
5) Contact Office of Intellectual Freedom for any further support, 800-545-2433, ext. 4223 or
6) Refer to legitimate book reviews, such as: School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book and others; found on either Academic Search Premier, Follett's TITLEWAVE, or

Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?:
This book is about extremely difficult subjects like suicide, rape, manslaughter, sex, depression, bullying, alienation, and a variety of other topics. This book will help teens understand the effects of their actions on their fellow peers and perhaps stop future bullying. Hannah Baker's story also demonstrates the resounding impact of suicide on an entire community.

Reference Page:

Asher, J.  (2012).  Author info.  Retrieved July 11, 2012 from

Follett's Titlewave.  (2012).  Thirteen reasons why.  Retrieved July 11, 2012 from Follett's Titlewave iPhone App.  (2012).  The author.  Retreived July 11, 2012 from  (2012).  The book.  Retrived July 11, 2012 from

Cover art:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.