Guest Review: ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher

One of our GHS Summer Interns, Beth, contributed this very perceptive guest review of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why: “No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.”

Thirteen Reasons Why is a tremendously relatable and realistic novel that all high-schoolers should read, for it addresses important topics such as bullying, suicide, and sexual assault. This book tells the story of a high-schooler, Clay Jensen, who receives a package of cassette tapes from Hannah Baker, a girl who recently committed suicide two weeks earlier due to extreme bullying and sexual assault. She recorded 13 tapes, one for each person who helped ruin her life, and Clay is the last person on the tapes.

This is an important book to read in light of recent controversy due to the recently produced Netflix series. The TV show dramatized and glorified different scenes of sexual assault and bullying for the sake of publicity/shock value. Additionally, Hannah was portrayed to be this mysterious, charming, likable girl whose decision to end her life was heroic, almost. The show portrayed it as though it was a good option. In the book, however, Asher portrays the severity of the situation in a more subtle, realistic, and informing way that still allows the reader to understand the message. Thirteen Reasons Why teaches the importance of respecting those around you and realizing the impact you have on people. You never know what is going on in another person’s life, and a small action could hurt them more than you think it would. This is a very important book for all high-schoolers to read.

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