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Thirteen Reasons Why

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Thirteen Reasons Why
Author Jay Asher
Publication date 2007
Published by Penguin Books
Publication Order
Preceded by
Followed by

Thirteen Reasons Why is a bestselling young-adult book published in 2007 by Jay Asher.


You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret... is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush - who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and learns the truth about himself - a truth he never wanted to face.

Plot Summary Edit

Clay Jensen, a high school student, returns home from school one day to find an anonymous package on his front doorstep. When he opens it, he discovers that inside is a shoe box that contains seven cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the tapes, Hannah says that she will explain why her life ended, and if someone had been sent the tapes, they were one of the reasons why. She instructs them to listen to the tapes and pass them on to whoever follows their tale. She warns them that if they don't pass the tapes on, a second set of tapes will be leaked to the entire student body by an anonymous student, and if that happens, there will be dire consequences for most of the people named on the tapes.

Clay goes over to a classmate's house, Tony, to borrow his Walkman, but he ends up stealing it instead, and he begins to listen to the tapes.

The first person listened on the tapes is Justin Foley, Hannah's first crush in a new town, as well as her first kiss. After they share their first kiss, Justin spreads a rumor around school that their kiss was a sexual encounter, thus earning Hannah a low reputation.

The second person is Alex Standall, who created a list made up only of freshmen who he claimed "hot" or "not". The list was passed around and eventually, Hannah found it. She discovered that she earned the title of the Best Ass, ahead of Jessica (who was in the "not" column).

The third is Jessica Davis. When she, Hannah, and Alex were new in their freshman year, the three of them would always meet at Monet's to chat. After Hannah beat her on Alex's list, she slapped her as well as scarred her over her left eyebrow by digging her nails into Hannah's forehead. People started gossiping about her once again. The scar is a physical manifestation of the internal scars Hannah feels inside.

The fourth is Tyler Down. Tyler is a renowned photographer for the yearbook, but is learned to be a peeping Tom by Hannah when she discovers him taking pictures of her bedroom. Because of this, she invites Courtney over to stop him and they mime having a dirty conversation, along with a back rub. They snap open the curtains and see the figure of Tyler running away, and with this, takes away the safety of Hannah's own home, the only place where she felt safe.

After hearing this, Clay rides the bus over to Tyler's house, but before that he sees Skye Miller, his eighth-grade crush who has nowhere to go. At Tyler's house, he sees Marcus Cooley, another person he will soon learn about on the list. Marcus throws rocks at Tyler's window, and when he offers Clay a rock to finish the window off, Clay asks what the difference is between Tyler and them, Marcus says that he was a freak. He also says that if Tyler looked through Hannah's window, why can't they break his? Clay walks away from Marcus without chucking a rock.

The fifth is Courtney Crimsen, a girl who is famous for being the sweetest girl in school, but after they stop Tyler, she spreads a rumor around about Hannah. Then Courtney uses Hannah to get a ride to a party to make sure that she and Hannah are still friends, as she is still trying to keep her image up, not to be Hannah's friend.

Clay then learns about what Marcus did to get on Hannah's list. Hannah somewhat reluctantly fills in an Oh My Dollar Valentine around Valentine's Day, a personality quiz that you take to find who your perfect match is. After Marcus gets Hannah on his list, he asks Hannah out to Rosie's teasingly. (Clay, at this moment, is instructed by Hannah to go to Rosie's and wait there, because no one goes there alone.) After realizing that Hannah actually took the joke literally, he goes there and on their date, he tries to take advantage of her. When Hannah pushes him away, he calls her a tease and leaves angrily, and Hannah realizes that she has no control over her life and becomes depressed, seriously considering to end her own life.

The seventh on the list is Zach Dempsey. After Marcus leaves, Zach comes up to Hannah, but she only ignores him, and he goes back to his friends eventually. Zach considers her silence rejection and, angrily, takes out all of the notes that compliment Hannah anonymously in Peer Communications. Hannah catches him taking one of her notes and Zach runs off, but she confronts him in tears, making a fool of herself for no apparent reason, but there was a reason: it seemed to Hannah that Zach didn't think she deserved to have hope.

Later, Hannah leaves an anonymous note saying that she's considering suicide in Peer Communications. The students discuss it in class, somewhat annoyed, but finally one person says what everyone in class is thinking: since no one knows the name of the person who wrote the note, they can't take it seriously.

The eighth person is Ryan, the editor of the Lost-N-Found column in the school newspaper. He steals a poem of hers and he puts it in his column, called "Soul Alone". English teachers try to dissect what the poem means, but peers figure out that Hannah wrote it and mock her for it, reading parodies of her poem to her before class. Ryan causes Hannah to feel that even her thoughts aren't hers and aren't safe.

Tony, who is also in Rosie's, tells Clay that his story is next and offers to drive him around while he listens to the tape.

Clay reluctantly goes back to the tape. Hannah explains that Clay was probably the nicest person she had met, as she never heard anything bad about him. She says that Clay wasn't on the list in the same way that everyone else was, but he was the one who made her first think about the list. One night, at a party, they finally connect, talking for hours. Eventually they go up to the bedroom, where they share a kiss. They stay in the room for a while, but then Hannah gets scared and starts thinking about the people who caused her to feel like there was a lack of trust in the world, and thinks Clay will betray her just like Justin. She shouts at Clay to leave her alone and at first Clay tries to protest, but eventually he leaves and Hannah breaks down crying.

Tony tells Clay that he was the one who received the second set of tapes. Tony explains to Clay that Hannah asked him for a voice recorder so she could record her tapes, and Tony gives them to her without knowing the real reason she needs them. Soon he is mailed the set of tapes on the same day that Hannah dies. Tony realizes that he was given the second set of tapes and makes sure they are passed on.

Clay thanks him for driving him around and then Tony leaves to go home while Clay continues to listen to the tapes. He comes upon number ten, which is again Justin, this time for allowing Bryce Walker to rape Jessica. Hannah was hiding in a closet and witnessed it but was only a bystander and did nothing to save Jessica.

Number eleven is Jenny Kurtz, a cheerleader. She offers Hannah a ride home after the party but crashes into a stop sign. When Hannah tries to call the police, Jenny, not wanting to get in trouble, kicks Hannah out of her car. Eventually Hannah calls the police but learns that they had already been called because a car accident had been caused without the stop sign, which kills a senior at her high school.

Hannah is depressed and considering the ways she could kill herself by the time number twelve on her list comes along. Though Hannah didn't go to Courtney's latest party, she ends up at the after party, where Courtney and Bryce are in Courtney's hot tub in their underwear. Hannah strips to hers and joins them, where Bryce sexually touches Hannah, who for once feels helpless and gives into her undeserved reputation, and Courtney turns a blind eye to this.

The thirteenth reason why Hannah killed herself is Mr. Porter, her English teacher and counselor. Hannah gives life one more chance and turns to him for help, expressing her thoughts on suicide and recording the whole conversation. When she tells him about what happened with Bryce and tells him that she doesn't want to press charges, he suggests that she simply move on. Hannah leaves his office at this and he does nothing to get her back in there, even though he knows she plans to kill herself.

The last sentence Hannah says on the tapes is "I'm sorry".

Clay goes to school the next day, unable to stop thinking about Hannah, and runs into Skye again, who is showing signs of suicide. Clay calls her name, and the novel ends.

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