Information: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher was published in 2007 by Razorbill. ISBN: 1595147888
Plot Summary: Thirteen Reasons Why is about the day when Clay Jensen comes home from school to find a mysterious package at the front door. When he opens it, he finds thirteen cassette tapes from his classmate, Hannah Baker. She is the girl he’s had a crush on for a long time, but sadly, she had committed suicide two weeks ago. Hannah’s voice comes across the cassette tapes, telling Clay how there were thirteen reasons she committed suicide and that Clay was one of them. As Clay spends the night, listening to Hannah’s thirteen reasons why, he is introduced to parts of Hannah’s life that he never knew existed. But now he has to decide if he wants to keep listening, to know what reason he played in her death.
Critical Evaluation: Thirteen Reasons Why is a compelling novel that takes the reader deep into the mind of someone who has been bullied, isolated, and suffering from depression. Not only does the novel present a form of understanding of why someone make that choice, but also a way to move forward after someone is gone. The novel encourages the reader to think of others in a new way, hopefully preventing some situations of bullying and isolation.
Reader’s Annotation: After Clay’s crush, Hannah, commits suicide, Clay receives thirteen cassette tapes, explaining all the reasons she chose to take her own life. Now Clay must decide if he wants to move forward, knowing how and why he played a role in her choice.
Author’s Information: Jay Asher‘s debut YA novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, has appeared regularly on the New York Times bestsellers list for the past 9 years. It has sold over 2.5 million copies in the US alone and is currently in production to be a 13-part series on Netflix. His second YA novel, The Future of Us, was coauthored with Printz-honor winner Carolyn Mackler. His novels have been translated into over 30 languages. His third novel, What Light, will be released in October 2016 (Jay Asher).
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Mystery
Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas
Book Talk Ideas:
- Clay listens to the first of the tapes, only to find out he was one of the reasons Hannah decided to take her own life. Was it a good choice for him to listen to the tapes? What else could he have done?
- What can Clay do better now that he has learned so much from Hannah?
Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 7-12 (Scholastic) and Ages 13-18
Challenge Issues: Death, Suicide, Violence, Language, Drinking
Challenge Defense File:
The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.
The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).
Asher, J. (2007). Thirteen Reasons Why. New York, New York: Razorbill.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a part of the collection because of its personal and in depth look into the mind of someone who has been bullied and isolated. So often their voices are not heard. Asher’s novel makes the important point that there is so much more going on in a person’s life than just what we can see.
Other recommendations like this book include: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin, The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, and Hate List by Jennifer Brown.
Active Listening Skills
- Remain calm
- Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
- Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree
- Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee for Honor book (2009)
- South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book (2010)
- Abraham Lincoln Award (2013)
- Negative Reviews: Goodreads
- Reviews by Young Adults: Common Sense Media
Why I chose this book:
I chose this book because of the powerful understanding it gives to readers about what others around them go through. That even when we think we’re seeing it all, we’re probably not. Clearly, it is important that we are kind to all because they might be going through something that we will never know about. Thirteen Reasons Why guides readers to this understanding.