Thirteen Reasons Why


Thirteen Reasons Why is a young adult novel written in 2007 by Jay Asher. It is the story of a young high school student as she descends into despair brought on by betrayal and bullying, culminating with her suicide. She details the thirteen reasons why in an audio diary which was mailed to a friend two weeks before her death.

Thirteen Reasons Why has received recognition and awards from several young adult literary associations, and the paperback edition reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list in July 2011. A screenplay was written, based on the original release of the book, that became the basis of the dramatic television series 13 Reasons Why released through Netflix on March 31, 2017. The screenplay contains several deviations from the book, including, but not limited to, name changes, plot elements, and character personalities.


Thirteen Reasons Why was first published in hardcover on October 18, 2007, by RazorBill, a young adult imprint of Penguin Books. The audiobook on CD was released at the same time by Listening Library, a division of Penguin Books, featuring the voices of Debra Wiseman as Hannah and Joel Johnstone as Clay.[1]

The novel was published in trade paperback format by Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin Random House on June 14, 2011.[2] Thirteen Reasons Why had remained in hardcover long past the usual one-year release-to-paperback schedule due to its continued grassroots popularity and sales fueled by author participation.[3]

On December 27, 2016, the Tenth Anniversary Edition of Thirteen Reasons Why was published in hardcover, also by Penguin Young Readers Group.[4] In this edition, the book's original ending is included, as well as a new introduction and an essay from the author, pages from the notebook that the author used while writing this novel, reader reactions, and a reading guide.[5]


Clay Jensen, a shy high school student, returns home from school one day to find that he has received a mysterious package in the mail, containing seven cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, a classmate who recently committed suicide. The tapes had been sent to various other people before arriving at Clay's door.[1]

The first person to receive the tapes was Justin Foley. Hannah and Justin kissed in the park once, after she developed a crush on him. Despite this, Justin betrayed her by telling his friends that more had happened in the park than a kiss, earning Hannah the reputation of a slut at school.

The second person was Alex Standall. Alex published a "hot or not" list comparing the girls in their class based on their body parts. He awarded Hannah the title of Best Ass, which only reinforced her reputation as a slut. He also awarded his ex-girlfriend Jessica the title of Worst Ass, in revenge for her breaking up with him.

The third person was Jessica Davis. After being compared to Hannah on the "hot or not" list, Jessica accused Hannah of stealing Alex from her. When Hannah denied it, Jessica slapped Hannah, leaving a scar on her forehead and ending their friendship. It is hinted that Jessica may have believed the rumors about Hannah being a slut, leading her to believe that Hannah had stolen Alex from her. Jessica then began spreading rumors that Hannah was the reason for her breakup with Alex.

The fourth person to receive the tapes was Tyler Down, a classmate who worked as a photographer for the yearbook. After suspecting that someone was taking pictures of her through her bedroom window, Hannah enlisted her classmate Courtney Crimson, who was unnamed at this point, to help catch the Peeping Tom. They staged a massage and then Courtney exclaimed over some "toys" she pretended to find. Based on the glimpse she got as the perpetrator ran away and his reaction at school, Hannah was able to determine that Tyler was the one at the window.

The fifth person was Courtney Crimsen. Courtney used Hannah to get a ride to a party, but then she left Hannah to herself. Courtney started spreading a rumor at the party regarding the sexual "toys" she had "found" in Hannah's bedroom, further reinforcing Hannah's reputation as a slut. Hannah left Courtney at the party and gave Tyler a ride home.

The sixth person was Marcus Cooley. Hannah matched up with him through a Valentine fundraiser for the cheerleaders. They went on a date at a diner where Marcus tried to take advantage of her. Hannah pushed him to the floor, then he left, calling her a "tease".

The seventh person was Zach Dempsey, who tried to comfort Hannah after Marcus ditched her. After Hannah fails to respond the way he wants, he takes classroom "notes of encouragement" from her pigeonhole as revenge. Hannah had considered this class her "haven" as the teacher did not tolerate bullying. She had left an anonymous note about contemplating suicide, but the teacher and the class felt that the note was just an attempt to get attention.

The eighth person was Ryan Shaver. He attended a poetry class outside of school that Hannah signed up for. After gaining her trust, Ryan stole a poem written by Hannah and published the poem anonymously in the school newspaper. When students and teachers criticized the poem harshly, Hannah took the criticism to heart, although no one knew who had actually written it.

The ninth person to receive the tapes was Clay. However, Hannah apologized for including Clay, saying that he did not deserve to be on the list. She admitted that Clay was the nicest person she had ever met and that she wished they had had more time to get to know each other. Hannah broke curfew and went to a party she knew Clay would be at. They had a long conversation and ended it with what she called a "fantastic" kiss, which ended when Hannah began recalling her kiss with Justin and reacted badly. That was the last time Clay and Hannah spoke to each other.

The tenth person was Justin. After Clay left her, Justin and Jessica entered the bedroom, not noticing Hannah on the floor. Justin tried to have sex with Jessica on the bed, but her drunken state kept her from responding. Justin left the room and Hannah got up and hid in a closet. She then witnessed a now unconscious Jessica being raped by the unnamed at this point Bryce Walker. Justin knew about the rape and let it happen.

The eleventh person was Jenny Kurtz, a cheerleader who offered Hannah a ride home from the house party. She hit a stop sign while driving and did not tell the police, leading to a car accident which killed one of their classmates.

The twelfth person was Bryce Walker. After another party she had attended on another night, Hannah took a walk. Bryce called her to a hot tub at Courtney's house. She knew better than to join them, but she had given up. She removed her clothing and got in the tub wearing only a bra and panties. Bryce began touching Hannah, and Courtney left the hot tub. When she didn't actively resist his attention, he raped her.

The thirteenth to receive the tapes was Mr. Porter, the temporary school counselor. Hannah secretly recorded a conversation they had, in which she expressed a desire to end her life. Overwhelmed, Mr. Porter simply told Hannah that if she was unwilling to press charges against "the boy", she should just try to move on.

After sending the tapes to the next person on the list, Clay returned to school and ran into his classmate Skye Miller, whom he had reason to suspect was becoming suicidal. The novel ends with Clay reaching out to her.[6][7]


Universal Pictures purchased film rights to the novel on February 8, 2011.[8] On October 29, 2015, it was announced Netflix and Paramount Television would be taking on the book to become a miniseries, with Selena Gomez as an executive producer.[9] The series was released on March 31, 2017. On May 7, 2017, Netflix announced that they had ordered a second season of the series.[10]

In 2009, Asher adapted the novel into a stage play for high school performance.[11]

Differences from the TV series

The character in the book who was Marcus Cooley[12] became Marcus Cole[13] in the TV series.
The character in the book who was Jenny Kurtz[12] became Sheri Holland[13] in the TV series.
Mr. Porter's first name is not listed in the book,[12] but he is named as Kevin[13] in the TV series.
The second character to be named on the tapes in the book was Alex Standall;[12] in the TV series it was Jessica Davis.[13]
The third character to be named on the tapes in the book was Jessica Davis;[12] in the TV series it was Alex Standall.[13]
The ninth character to be named on the tapes in the book was Clay Jensen;[12] in the TV series it was Justin Foley.[13]
The tenth character to be named on the tapes in the book was Justin Foley;[12] in the TV series it was Sheri Holland.[13]
The eleventh character to be named on the tapes in the book was Jenny Kurtz;[12] in the TV series it was Clay Jensen.[13]
The television series has a much deeper plot, and does not solely depict why Hannah Baker killed herself.
Recent developments

In May 2017, the curriculum director in Mesa County School District in Colorado ordered librarians to stop circulating the book due to a rash of student suicides. After three hours of deliberation by librarians and counselors, the books were returned to circulation when it was determined that the book was not as graphic as the TV series. Notices were sent to parents within the school district alerting them to the possible influence of the series.[14]

  • 2013 – Abraham Lincoln Award winner[15]
  • 2010 – South Carolina Young Adult Book Award winner[16]
  • 2009 – International Reading Association Young Adults' Choice list[17]
  • 2009 – Writing Conference's Literature Festival[18]
  • 2008 – Best Books for Young Adults YALSA[19]
  • 2008 – Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers YALSA[20]
  • 2008 – Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults YALSA[21]
  • 2008 – California Book Award silver medal – Young Adult[22]
  • 2007 – Kirkus Reviews Editors Choice[23]
  1. ^ a b "Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher". Goodreads. 2007. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  2. ^ Asher, Jay (14 June 2011). Thirteen Reasons Why (trade paperback). New York, NY: Penguin Young Readers Group. ISBN 978-1-59514-188-0. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 
  3. ^ Rich, Motoko (9 March 2009). "A Story of a Teenager's Suicide Quietly Becomes a Best Seller". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on 22 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  4. ^ Asher, Jay (27 December 2016). Thirteen Reasons Why (hardcover) (10th Anniversary ed.). New York, NY: Penguin Young Readers Group. ISBN 978-1-59514-788-2. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "Jay Asher tells why the Thirteen Reasons Why anniversary edition contains the book's original ending". Penguin Teen. Archived from the original on 17 April 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  6. ^ "Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher". Shmoop. Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  7. ^ "Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher". GradeSaver. Grade Saver LLC. Archived from the original on 10 December 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  8. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (February 8, 2011). "Universal Acquires '13 Reasons Why' As Selena Gomez Vehicle". Retrieved February 8, 2011. 
  9. ^ Jaafar, Ali (October 29, 2015). "Netflix Gives Selena Gomez's '13 Reasons Why' Straight-To-Series Order". Retrieved October 29, 2015. 
  10. ^ "'13 Reasons Why' Renewed for a Second Season at Netflix". Variety. May 7, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2017. 
  11. ^ Wilson-Taylor, James (April 12, 2017). "Could The '13 Reasons Why' Stage Play Be Coming Soon To Broadway?". PopBuzz. Retrieved June 8, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h "Thirteen Reasons Why Characters". Shmoop. Shmoop University. Archived from the original on 6 December 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h "Characters / 13 Reasons Why". TvTropes. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  14. ^ "Mesa County school district briefly pulls 'Thirteen Reasons Why' after 7 students' suicides". Fox31 Denver. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 21, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award". IMC/Library. Archived from the original on 22 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  16. ^ "Young Adult Book Award Nominees and Materials: Past Young Adult Book Award Winners". South Carolina Association of School Librarians. Retrieved March 26, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy November 2009". International Reading Association. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  18. ^ "Previous authors". Archived from the original on 15 April 2016. 
  19. ^ "YALSA 2008 Best Books for Young Adults". Young Adult Library Services Association. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  20. ^ "YALSA 2008 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers". Young Adult Library Services Association. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  21. ^ "YALSA Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults 2008". Young Adult Library Services Association. Archived from the original on 22 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  22. ^ "77th ANNUAL CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS WINNERS IN BRIEF". The Commonwealth Club. 15 May 2009. Archived from the original on 20 June 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  23. ^ "THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher". Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus Media LLC. 1 September 2007. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
External links
  • Official website

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