In this book, written by Jay Asher, a boy named Clay Jensen receives a mysterious package. Inside the box he discovers a bunch cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his former classmate and crush, and had committed suicide two weeks prior. Through her recordings, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why of she decided to end her life; Clay is one of them. As Clay cautiously listens to the first tape, he hears Hannah’s voice explaining that she holds each of her listeners responsible for her death and that if the recordings are not passed along to the next culprit, their evidence will shown to the public. Of course she doesn’t accuse them of actually committing the act of murder but rather took part in the snowball effect of her becoming uncaring of what happened to her life. She had listed her first love, her traitorous friends, her stalker,the boys who gave her false hope, a rapist, and an counselor who didn’t take her plea for help seriously. Clay was the only one listed to only reassure him that he had nothing to do with her reasons and that he was the one who encouraged her to attempt to live. This piece of literature is a work of art where words are sewn together to give a tough look at a girl’s suicide and the interconnected events leading to it.
The tapes describe how each person’s involvement affected directly to her decision. In 2007, Jay Asher was interviewed and asked about the message of the book.
He responded, “Basically, even though Hannah admits that the decision to take her life was entirely her own, it’s also important to be aware of how we treat others. Even though someone appears to shrug off a sideways comment or a rumor, it’s impossible to know everything else that’s going on in that person’s life and how we might be adding to his/her pain.”
This message seeps very deeply into the cautious and ominous tone of the book. It is quite straightforward, like when Hannah tells people that if they’d acted differently, she might not have been led to take her own life. However, there were times where its message was little more subtle:
I’m listening to someone give up. Someone I knew. Someone I liked.
I’m listening but I’m still too late. (8.281-282)