Jay Asher and his Novel “Thirteen Reasons Why”

Jay Asher grew up in California, and has always had a thing for books. Growing up, he worked in several different book stores and libraries. He attended Cuesta college right after he graduated high school, majoring in elementary education. He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University where he left in his senior year. He decided he wanted to pursue a career as a serious writer. Thirteen Reasons Why is Jay’s first novel, and it has won several awards. Jay is 34 years old, and has been married for eight years. Asher used a way of telling this story that was easily interpretable for many teens. The style was a two-part narration between two characters, throughout the chapters as opposed to alternating every other chapter. By doing this, it really made you want to keep reading.
The reason I chose this particular book was because it was recommended by my very close friend. We share many interests, so she knew I’d enjoy this novel just as much as she did. The short summary on the inside cover had a way of drawing you in, and I could not wait to start reading. I felt that it deals with a very serious and dangerous issue; it was incredibly compelling.
The author uses an interesting way to make this story contemporary, and stay contemporary. He used already “outdated” elements in a contemporary setting to make this a virtually ageless book. Cassette tapes were a major item in this novel, and Asher had the characters acknowledge that they were outdated. He did this with other items and ideas as well, such as the kinds of cars people drove. The setting of the story took place in a small town, which the author chooses to leave unnamed. Throughout the story the main character visits various houses, stores, and other buildings that had certain significance.

There are many very important characters in this book. The two main characters however, are two high school juniors; Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker. Hannah Baker makes seven cassette tapes, with 13 different stories on them. The stories tell the reasons, incidents, and people that ultimately caused her suicide. Hannah retells stories about each person on the tapes; she tells them in such a way that you can really relate, and understand where she’s coming from. Clay Jensen, the other main character, is on these tapes. As the reader, you go through the tapes with Clay. You see his reactions to Hannah’s words first hand. Just as with Hannah, Clay’s reactions are very understandable and relatable. The author made it very easy to feel both character’s pain.
“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything . . . affects everything.” The overall theme of this novel is to think about how what you say or do can affect others. In Hannah’s case, everything affected her. You can never really know how what you do affects someone; everyone is different. One main message that Jay Asher wants people to get from this book is to think about your actions, before you act. Think about how what you do might be adding to someone’s pain, because you don’t know if they are already hurting.
Asher’s style was a very captivating one. He had a way of writing this novel that would really grab the reader’s attention. Just his wordings, really made you think. Also, his ability to make the characters situations and emotions relatable made the book a real page-turner. From the second you pick up Thirteen Reasons Why, you are hooked. Jay Asher is an absolutely phenomenal young adult author.
Another book that compares with this one is the novel by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. These two books are similar in the sense that they are easily relatable. Both novels deal with very serious, real life issues. Both novels tell it like is. No issue is too serious to be discussed with these authors, because it’s all real, which is why teenagers are attracted to them. The characters seem so real, that you actually feel their pain, and everything they go through. They are portrayed as if they have been your friend for years.
Thirteen reasons why, the novel by Jay Asher has won several awards. Each award is rightly his. This book was incredibly inspirational, with so many memorable quotes. I would definitely recommend this novel, and I already have. Anyone who is interested in a good book, this is for them. Regardless of age or gender, the messages this book has will come through. How would you react if you found out you were a contributing factor in the suicide of your classmate? Jay Asher really goes in depth, and you will not be able to put this book down.

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