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Thirteen Reasons Why Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Thirteen Reasons Why


A high school student is struggling to deal with the recent suicide of a fellow student he was in love with when he receives a set of tapes that supposedly explain the reasons behind his suicide and he is surprised and afraid to learn that he is one of the reasons behind her suicide. High school student Clay Jensen is at the post office mailing a package. He is disheveled and exhausted and suffering from a raging headache and his cold cup of coffee doesn't help. On his way to school, he muses how he dreads going to school because he doesn't want to see Hannah Baker's empty desk in class nor does he want to run into Mr. Porter, the school psychiatrist now that he knows what he does about the man. Thus begins 13 Reasons Why. Only one day earlier, Clay had been excited to receive a mysterious package on his doorstep. The package not only had no return address but contained a series of tapes. A bit confused as to why someone would send him video tapes but curious as to what might be on them he uses his dad's old cassette player to listen to the tapes. He plays the first tape and is shocked to hear the voice of Hannah Baker, a student who had committed suicide by swallowing pills only two weeks earlier. On the tape Hannah explains that there are two rules: the first is that the listener of the tapes must listen to all of them and second that when they finish they must send the tapes to the next person on the list. The tapes list the thirteen reasons why Hannah Baker killed herself and every person on the list was someone who had something to do with it.
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The first reason is Justin Foley. Hannah had a crush on Justin and had agreed to meet him in the park one night. All she had wanted to do was kiss the guy that she had a crush on and she does kiss him, but then the next day at school Justin ignores her. That day, he spreads a rumor around school that he and Hannah did much more than kiss. Being that she is new and doesn't have any friends to back her up, the rumor spreads like wildfire and the students believe the story over Hannah's word.
Reason number 2 is Alex Standall. Alex makes a list of the best asses in school and put Hannah as number one in order to get back at his girlfriend Jessica, who he was fighting with at the time. As a result of this, the boys around school think Hannah is a slut and think it is okay to touch her without her permission and degrade her.
Reason number 3 is Jessica Davis. Jessica and Hannah were both new to the school and had hung out for only a short period of time before Jessica started dating Alex. After the list came about, Jessica accused Hannah of stealing Alex away from her and then hits Hannah of the eye leaving a mark.
Reason number 4 is Tyler Down, a peeping Tom who Hannah catches snapping pictures of her in her room, eliminating the only safe space Hannah has left since the students at school are hostile to her. From then on she keeps her blinds closed and stops stargazing.
Reason 5 is Courtney Crimson. Courtney is the girl who helped Hannah catch the peeping Tom and so Hannah believed Courtney was her friend. It turned out that Courtney was only using Hannah to drive her around and generally to fluff her own ego while talking badly about her behind her back.
Reason number 6 is Marcus Cooley, a popular jock and asks Hannah on a date. Hannah agrees, deciding to give him the benefit of the doubt, but during their date Marcus tries get sexual with Hannah and when Hannah pushes him away he verbally assaults her and calls her a tease.
Reason number 7 is Mr. Bradley, Hannah's teacher. During class, the students were encouraged to write an anonymous note about themselves and put it in a bag and then the class would discuss each note. Hannah's anonymous note read that she was contemplating suicide. Much to her despair the entire class agreed that the writer was probably just looking for attention and Mr. Bradley passes out a pamphlet about what to do if someone is contemplating suicide.
Reason 8 is a poem that Hannah published anonymously in the town's newspaper. The poem was a subtle cry for help as well as a release for her but several people spent a great deal of effort tearing the poem apart which just added insult to injury for Hannah.
Reason 9 is Clay himself. While Clay was not cruel and did not directly cause Hannah to commit suicide, she had always wished to get to know him better because she'd had a crush on him. Clay begins to cry at this point as he had a crush on Hannah but had been too afraid to talk to her.
Reason number 10 is Justin Cooley again. Hannah reveals that she saw him rape a girl but had been unable to stop him and had suffered massive guilt from this.
Reason number 11 is Jenny Kurtz. Jenny was giving Hannah a ride home from a party when she hit a stop sign and knocked it down. Hannah tried to get Jenny to report it to the police but Jenny refused and made Hannah get out of the car. Later that night, a man hit a boy at the intersection where the stop sign had been and killed him. Hannah feels responsible for the little boy's death.
Reason 12 is Bryce Walker. At this point Hannah has resigned herself to committing suicide. When she runs into Bruce Walker she is at such a low point that she allows him to have sex with her even though she does not want him to.
Reason 13 is Mr. Porter the school psychologist. Hannah goes to him and reveals what happened with Bryce. Seeing as how Bryce did not rape Hannah, Mr. Porter tells her to just move on. This is the last straw for Hannah.
The day after listening to all the tapes, Clay notices a girl at school, Skye who seems depressed. He recognizes all of the signs of a suicidal person after his experience with Hannah's tapes. The end of the story is him calling out Skye's name. It seems that because of what he just went through he is able to reach out to another depressed person who might feel as though suicide is their only way out.
Best part of story, including ending: I didn't really like the story as much as I thought I would. I thought it seemed a bit forced and amateurish at times but I will say it is a good read for anyone who thinks they might know someone or is someone considering suicide as could help you identify the behavior of someone who is contemplating suicide.

Best scene in story: I didn't have a favorite scene per say because I didn't really like the book but I can say that the ending was good. I liked that Clay recognized the dangerous behavior of another one of his classmates and summoned the courage to reach out to her, possibly saving her life.

Opinion about the main character: The main character Clay wasn't really much of a standout. He wasn't all that brave but I did like that by the end of the book at least, after listening to all of the tapes, he became much braver and realized that it was important to reach out to people who looked like they needed help.

The review of this Book prepared by Kyle Spencer a Level 3 Eurasian Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Thirteen Reasons Why

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Kids:    -   being bullied in school Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   actions leading to death of someone Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Age group of kid(s) in story:    -   high school

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American) Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin

Setting

How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () United States    -   Yes Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   hostile, like Gomer Pyle on steroids

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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Jay Asher Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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