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GUEST REVIEW: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Dear Mr. Asher,

book review Not too long ago I wrote a review for this site, my first review. I’m a writer not a reviewer but that book moved me, almost unbearably. At the time, I couldn’t imagine another book moving me as much.

I stand corrected.

Your book, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY . . . where do I begin? I’ve been trying to figure that out for hours, trying to figure out how to tell the readers here only enough about the plot to make them read it, because once I say too much, many of them are automatically going to say Not For Me.

But this book IS for them, it’s for everyone. Yes, it’s a Young Adult. Yes, it’s about forbidden topics, especially for teens. Yes, there’s death, a tragic, horrible death. A suicide, actually.

Sounds depressing to say the least, but stick with me on this. I write romances for a living, contemporary romances with a guaranteed happy ending. Always. When I watch a movie, I demand the same. When I read, even more so. I am a sap, a light-weight, happily-ever-after needing reader.

This book wasn’t close to that. And I couldn’t put it down.

The book opens with our protagonist, a well-liked, smart, kind high school senior Clay Jensen, as he receives a box of cassette tapes. They’re from Hannah Baker, a girl he’s crushed on for several years. Hannah recently withdrew from everyone without a word, and then, the unthinkable. She committed suicide, leaving behind the tapes, which are her thirteen reasons why she did what she did. It’s through these tapes that the reader gets her story, and the people who affected her, who brought her to this point in her life.

I loved that we listened through Clay’s ears, loved that as he experiences and comes to understand the truth, we see it change his life. And as hard and unbelievable as it is for him to grasp, it actually changes his life for the better.

What I want to say to the readers out there is this. Read this book, it just might change your life, too. It might make you think about your daily actions in a new way. It might make you think about someone other than yourself, or about how you affect others. And it just might make you turn to someone in your life and say something that needs to be said, like "sorry" or even "thank you".

Just as I want to say "thank you" to Jay Asher for the amazing, clever, strong, deeply profound read. My grade – a solid A.

Jill Shalvis
When she’s not reading, USA Today bestselling romance author Jill Shalvis is at work on her next novel. INSTANT GRATIFICATION is in stores now. See her daily blog for more details, her crazy mountain adventures, and contests.

This book can be purchased in mass market from an independent bookstore or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Guest Reviewer

14 Comments

  1. Victoria Dahl
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 11:57:37

    This book scares me.

    I know you say it shouldn’t, Jill, but I can feel my heart wrenching from here! *sob*

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  2. Krissy
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 12:05:25

    I actually bought this book for my teen when it first came out. She is NOT a reader, but she has read this book at least 3 times now and has spoken very highly of it. I guess I’m going to have to borrow it from her and check it out.

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  3. Meghan
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 12:07:35

    Fantastic review! I read this and I completely agree with you in every respect. It does make you question what you’ve done and how you might have helped and see things in a new light.

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  4. Jia
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 12:12:09

    I read this book when it first came out a couple years back. It is an excellent, excellent book and I absolutely recommend it whole-heartedly. Thanks for the review, Jill!

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  5. Jill Sorenson
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 13:22:56

    Looks great, Jill. Thanks for the rec.

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  6. Kate Davies
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 13:38:17

    Dang it, Jill, I’ve been avoiding this book for months just because I can feel my heart breaking every time I think about it. But you were so right about DEADLINE, I’m wavering.

    Oh, man, time to stock up on Kleenex.

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  7. eliz.s.
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 13:58:04

    I wanted to like this book a lot, but ended up disappointed. Good things about it: it’s a very quick read, and it is hard to put down. Overall, though, it seemed too afterschool special-like to me, and I had a hard time relating to any of the characters. It was melodrama-rama, imho. But I guess I’m in the minority…

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  8. Sarah
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 16:46:06

    I actually JUST started reading this book yesterday and I’m about 1/2 way through it. I had to stop because it is a hard book to read but it’s also absorbing and honest. Certainly puts your actions into context that you may not always consider. The snowball effect indeed.

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  9. Moth
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 23:05:33

    I have a spoilery question…
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    I read reviews that mentioned there was at least one rape in this book and that’s one of my touchy subjects. Has to be handled just right. Can someone please clue me in to the circumstances around it/ the graphicness of it? I’m thinking about reading the book, but I like to go into these things prepared.

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  10. Amy @ My Friend Amy
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 00:58:45

    I agree that this book definitely makes you consider your daily actions! I didn’t give quite as high a grade, but it’s certainly a thought provoking book.

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  11. Jory Strong
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 09:33:35

    Time to shuffle this book up to the top of my TBR pile. It’s been there a couple of times already, but each time I’ve wavered in favor of romance with a HEA instead of a serious read. Thanks for the review.

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  12. Jessica Kennedy
    Jun 06, 2009 @ 21:47:12

    One of my ultimate favorite books. I would love to give a copy of this book away to every person I meet but my pockets are not deep enough.

    Love this book. Everyone should read it and everyone should share it.

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  13. Roselyn
    Dec 06, 2009 @ 05:29:36

    Started and finished this book today. There was no way I could go to bed without finding out what happens at the end. I don’t agree with some of Hannah’s actions, although I really don’t understand what a person like her has gone through and feels so you need to take her character at face value to appreciate this book and not judge her. Suicide is quite close to home as I know two people that have left this life because of it. I don’t understand how they felt at the end, why they did it and more and more we learn about the affects of depression. Most of these people look and act fine on the surface (and beyond fine sometimes) so this book gave me an encite into what they felt … not that they were crazy but that they felt so alone, too alone to handle life – all they saw was darkness. I didn’t really like the end very much, I guess I didn’t know what to expect, I think this book was a great read and I will recommend it to my friends.

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  14. Cindy
    Mar 30, 2010 @ 03:55:02

    This book was so hard to read. I didn’t understand the end of it but i felt like i could feel Hanna’s pain and it made me realize that what i do affects others and even though i didn’t directly do it, i helped it and sometimes noticing things can save someone’s life

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