Student Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I’m a HUGE fan of Jay Asher’s debut, Thirteen Reasons Why.  It’s a book that I couldn’t put down.  It’s so popular in my classroom, I have four copies that are almost always checked out.  The majority of my students love it, but every now and then a student isn’t as thrilled about it as I am.  My student, Danielle, tried reading it for her Y.A. Lit project, but ended up putting it back because it wasn’t working for her.  Since I love it, and since I see mostly positive reviews for it, I decided to use Danielle’s review to balance things out.

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher

Student Reviewer: Danielle

Summary (From Goodreads): Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Student Review:

Thirteen Reasons Why I like this book:

1.It has an interesting idea behind it. Try telling me that a book about a girl who committed suicide and left behind tapes explaining why she did it doesn’t sound interesting. Exactly.
2.The tapes of a dead girl are an interesting thing to listen to (read, in this case).
3.…Well, maybe I can’t give you thirteen reasons why I like this book.

Overall, I’d have to say this book is disappointing. I thought I kind of liked it, but after a few days, I couldn’t remember what happened in the book. I know I love a book when I can still remember it, (example, Hush, Hush). I was really excited to read this book but the more I got into it, the more I realized I only like one part-Hannah’s tapes.

The book goes back and forth between the present with Clay, and the tapes with Hannah. I don’t like books that go back and forth between time periods or people. If you’re into that type of book, maybe you’d like this book more than I did. Also, if you like books that have a lot of mystery, I think you’d like this book. There are a lot of unanswered questions throughout the book. Mystery isn’t a problem for me, but when there are so many names and so many things to keep track of, that’s when I have a problem. I got confused with some parts and I wasn’t interested enough to go back and look up the previous tapes for a recap.

Another problem I had with the book was Clay. He was so boring and bland. Think a sandwich minus all the possible things you could put in the middle. That leaves you with bread. Sure, it’s enough to get you by, but it’s just too plain. Clay had a little bit of emotion and personality to keep the book moving, at a slow speed for my taste, but it wasn’t enough for me.

Hannah, on the other hand, was the best part of this book. A dead girl had way more personality than a boy who is still alive. To me, Hannah is the type of girl you either would be best friends with in real life or the girl that you would absolutely hate. To me, she was bold with what she would say. She had her own opinion and would stick with it. She knew how to play the same games everyone else plays. She’s an honest person and she isn’t afraid to tell the world everything she knows.

Thirteen Reasons Why sounds like an interesting book, but I could have done without it. I’d only recommend it to people who like books that switch between time periods and/or people.


  1. Melanie Shurtz says:

    I too love this book and had four copies in my classroom. The reviewer has valid points though and did a good job backing up her reasons for not liking it. Not every book appeals to everyone.

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      When I graded this review, one of the comments I left is how I’m impressed by her ability to back up her reasons.

  2. I had a student that tried the book but didn’t get far because of the switching back and forth between Clay and the tapes.

  3. LOVED this book. So well done. I handed it off to my thirteen-year-old daughter and she, too, is finding it impressive.


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