Teen Review: Thirteen Reasons Why
Review by Srithevi, member of the Malvern Youth Advisory Group
The storytelling telling style in Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is both creative and different from your typical young adult novel. It’s told through two characters’ perspectives with one from Hannah Baker, a teenage girl who committed suicide and narrates the story via seven double-sided audio tapes she recorded, and Clay Jensen, an acquaintance of Hannah’s who tells the story as he listens to the tapes. In the tapes, Hannah describes her experiences since she moved to Clay’s neighbourhood and names the 13 people who strongly contributed to her decision of killing herself. Clay Jensen, a typical teen boy, was an introvert with an unrequited crush on Hannah and once he learns of Hannah’s suicide, he becomes devastated and wants to know why she killed herself. He later receives the tapes in a package on his doorstep as they were being passed down by those on Hannah’s list and he happened to be one of the 13 people. He begins to listen, anxious about what Hannah had to say about him. Though this novel is written in the outlooks of two characters, Hannah’s narrative style is similar to what is seen in a diary, or an audio diary in this case, and Clay’s narrative style is similar to the common “telling the reader everything I know that relates to this situation” style as he gives his viewpoints while he reacts to what he hears. Although Thirteen Reasons Why is a recommended read for high school students, it may be fairly graphic for some due to its sensitive content and trigger warnings.