Banned Book Week Giveaway + Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

September 16, 2013 Book Review, reviews 19

Banned Book Week Giveaway + Review: Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Published by Razorbill on October 18, 2007
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble

You don’t know what went on in the rest of my life. At home. Even at school. 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.


I’ve read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher a few times now, and each time I am moved to tears and then anger when I hear of libraries banning the novel.  This novel about teen suicide ~ what leads up to high school freshman, Hannah, committing suicide and how her suicide affects fellow freshman, Clay Jensen.

The story begins with Clay opening a package sent to him from Hannah who very recently killed herself.  Inside the package are several cassette tapes and when Clay puts the first one into the cassette player it is Hannah’s voice he hears.  Hannah telling him about the people she believes helped lead her to the decision to take her own life.  There’s Justin who started rumors of how a kiss was much more than a kiss; Tyler, a peeping tom who took pictures of Hannah in her own bedroom; and Courtney who helped Hannah identify Tyler but then took advantage of Hannah’s friendship.  On and on and on Hannah goes through a list of thirteen reasons why. . .Clay is to listen to the tapes and then mail to the next person on the list.

When she gets home tomorrow, or the next day, she’ll find a package on her doorstep. Or if her mom or dad or someone else gets there first, maybe she’ll find it on her bed. And she’ll be excited. I was excited. A package with no return address? Did they forget, or was it intentional? Maybe from a secret admirer?

Clay knew Hannah from their job over the summer at a movie theater when he first developed a crush on her.  Several times throughout the tapes and the novel we are told of instances where Clay tried to help Hannah only to fall short or be too late.  As Clay listens to each tape and hears the downward spiral and the consequences of each person’s actions, his character grows in only the way that someone who has survived a tragedy can exhibit ~ it’s either accept responsibility, grow and change the world with your newfound knowledge. . .or wallow in self-pity and guilt, wasting a life.  The mystery of the novel comes from why Hannah chose the way out that she did and how Clay chooses to deal with her death. . .and the reasons why.

This novel targets so many challenges faced by high schoolers today ~ drinking, sex, friendship, suicide, responsibility and how we never truly know someone else’s life.  Unfortunately, it has been on the frequently banned books list since its publication in 2007.  And why? For confronting the very subjects our teenagers are handling ~ alcohol, drugs, suicide, sex.  Asher does an amazing job of grabbing the reader from the opening line and not letting go ~ ever.  I highly recommend this novel to every teenager, parent, teacher, or anyone else who works with teens.

[Tweet “@jayasher knows the heart of teens as revealed in #thirteenreasonswhy”]

To bring awareness to the too many books on the banned book lists I am giving away a book from the Banned Book Lists at the American Library Association website.  To enter please leave a comment about your favorite banned book.  The winner will be selected on September 21st.  The contest ends on Friday, September 20th at 11:59 pm.  This contest is open to all ~ international friends included.  The winner will be able to choose a book up to $15 from either amazon or the book depository.

This post is in participation with Book Journey’s “Reading to Beat the Banned.”  To read additional posts on banned books this week please visit Book Journey.  And be sure to check back here during the official Banned Book Week, September 22-29 when I will be giving away several special prizes!



19 Responses to “Banned Book Week Giveaway + Review: Thirteen Reasons Why”

  1. Amy

    The banning of books is the most aggravating and assanine behavior in my eyes…and so very mis-guided. And the fact that libraries ban books makes me see red. The availability of libraries and the books on their shelves to every person regardless of race religion, socio-economic status and physical or other handicap gives them the greatest responsibility to provide any and every type of book to the public. For this public institution to actually ban books is an outrage.

    Sorry, I haven’t had my coffee yet…and ranting about how I feel about the issue of banned books is sooo much easier than choosing my favorite banned book! Let’s see, I think today my favorite banned book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

    • Stacy

      Hah! I haven’t even begun my week-long rant of banned books; however, you DID do a pretty good job summarizing the problems with it! Love this sentence: “The availability of libraries and the books on their shelves to every person regardless of race religion, socio-economic status and physical or other handicap gives them the greatest responsibility to provide any and every type of book to the public.”

      I wonder what the librarians believe in the communities that ban books.

      Would you believe that I have yet to read A Prayer for Owen Meany! I think my reading goal this next year is to read thru the banned book list. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Sheila (Book Journey)

    I love your post Stacy and I really love this book. Its hard to pick a favorite banned book… To Kill A Mockingbird comes to mind, but if I were truly honest I would have to say that the world would be a sadder place if not for the magical works of JK Rowling and Harry Potter. Eeep. There it is. I said it. I am a Potter head 🙂

    • Stacy

      To Kill a Mockingbird AND the Harry Potter series are such staples to the reading diet. And I’ll shout it proudly ~ I am a Potter head too 🙂
      Thanks Sheila for hosting the banned book week event!

  3. laurelrainsnow

    I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on my list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts…and I agree that banning books is like killing something special and unique within us. Our ability to choose.

    • Stacy

      Thirteen Reasons Why is a good one; with characters that will break your heart. This YA book and Before I Fall are two that I recommend most.

  4. Tanya (Read. Run. Study.)

    I haven’t read Thirteen Reasons Why, but its on its on my list of books I’d like to get to.

    I am always disheartened when I read banned/challenged book lists, because they’re full of books that actually make you think or feel something. However, the listing that always make me shake my head the most is the Harry Potter series. I can never understand why people want to ban these books when they introduced so many children to the joys of reading. I just don’t get it.

  5. bermudaonion (Kathy)

    I’ve read Thirteen Reasons Why and can’t understand why anyone would ban it. Of course, banning a book only makes people want to read it more, so maybe there’s a method to their madness. My favorite banned book is probably To Kill a Mockingbird.

  6. MonaG (@Kulmona)

    I enjoyed Blubber by Judy Blume. I own Thirteen Reasons Why but have yet to crack it open.

    I detest the practice of censorship/banning. Consumers should have the freedom of choosing their entertainment media.

    Thanks so much for the giveaway 🙂

    • Stacy

      Such great books everyone is sharing! Blubber brings back fond memories of growing up. . .anything by Judy Blume evokes those coming of age memories for me ~ she has a way of capturing those emotions and feelings and moments of life & bodies changing faster than we are quite ready for. Awesome pick!

    • Stacy

      Lady Chatterley’s Lover is another BB I have not read as of yet but I can definitely see how reading it at age 15 would add to the appeal! Thanks for sharing!

  7. litandlife

    My daughter had a very good friend who committed suicide when my daughter was just a freshman and this girl was a senior. It had a profound impact on my daughter and still does. I believe it’s terribly important that the topic of suicide be addressed in books for teens; we cannot pretend like these things don’t happen.

  8. Joel Spencer

    I am currently doing a project on 13 reasons why and just reading reviews and the website for the book and I tear up reading those. I love reading, always have. Since I was maybe 5 or 6 and now a freshman as of this year. Books that talk about problems I do, can , or could face entice me and keep me hooked. If this book is as good as I’m thinking I’ll end up with another book I’ll reread like I did the “Lord o the Rings” series!

    • Stacy

      it’s definitely worth the time to read this one and a novel that will stay with you for a very long time. . .another one that I loved was Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. . .add that one to your list of necessary reads that stick with you if you haven’t already read it. You’re a freshman in high school and consider Lord of the Rings one to reread?!? I’m duly impressed! I loved the whole LotR series!

  1. Library Love #1 | Read. Run. Study.

    […] picked up Thirteen Reasons Why after reading Stacy’s post on her blog The Novel Life in conjunction with Book Journey’s “Reading to Beat the Banned.” It had been on […]

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