The Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Jay Asher's novel Thirteen Reasons Why takes unusual approach.

Jay Asher’s novel Thirteen Reasons Why takes unusual approach.

Jay Asher's novel Thirteen Reasons Why takes unusual approach.

Jay Asher’s debut book, The Thirteen Reasons Why, stunned readers as he tackled controversial topics such as rape and suicide. In the beginning of the book, one of the main characters, Hannah Baker, releases cassette tapes after her death to certain people who influenced her life, good and bad. On the tapes, she explains thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Throughout the book, Hannah defines the effects of bullying.

Jay Asher put an interesting take on the book by varying between two point of views, suicide victim Hannah Baker and Hannah’s crush Clay Jensen. Sometimes the alteration of the narrators can be confusing, but overall it is an easy read for high school students. The chapters in the book are a little long, but the book isn’t that big; anyone would be able to read it in less than a week. Jay Asher uses simple grammar, but the topics wouldn’t be appropriate for younger children. Hannah faced many struggles that high schoolers can relate to.

Hannah Baker became the voice for suicide victims and people who may be considering it. She faced the struggles of being a teenage girl going to a new high school. Everyday, after the day finished, Hannah recorded on a cassette the events of that day, which usually referred to a specific person. Sometimes she came across as being whiny, complaining about every little thing that happened to her, but I understood where she was coming from. No problem is too little; every little thing counts. Each problem Hannah Baker faced pushed her over the edge, little by little until she reached her breaking point which was suicide.

Clay Jensen, on the other hand, was the voice of reason. Clay Jensen was Hannah’s crush and classmate who also received the tapes. To me, Clay was a refreshing character. He was the main character because he was the one who truly cared about Hannah. Asher created this character to be a contrast to the story. While the story was so down and depressing, Clay was introduced to the story for a sense of hope.

Asher set high standards with his debut book, The Thirteen Reasons Why, leaving readers wanting more. He took a completely different path with his latest book, The Future of Us, with co-author Carolyn Mackler. The Future of Us, set in 1996, is about two teenagers who accidentally discover Facebook, which hasn’t been invented yet, and are shown there life 15 years in the future.