Thirteen Reasons Why

Common Sense Media says

Disturbing suicide novel examines bullying, indifference.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Inspired parents and teachers could use this book to talk about teen suicide and about the destructive nature of bullying, gossip, and indifference. 

Positive messages

Hannah's message is to "be careful how you treat people, you never know how it will affect them." Readers also will realize that inaction -- whether to stop a crime or a rumor or talk to a troubled student, friend, or child -- can be just as damaging as deliberately inflicting pain.

Positive role models

Readers will feel sorry for Clay, who had a crush on Hannah and is horrified to be one of the 13 reasons she killed herself. Through tragedy, he learns to reach out to others.


A girl is raped, a girl describes how she gave in to a rapist's sexual advances, a teen is killed in a car crash, a girl commits suicide, there's a fight among a couple of teens, and some property is vandalized.


There's sexual innuendo, kissing, and inappropriate touching -- a boy grabs a girl's butt.


Some swear words typical of teen banter.


Types of cars and food products mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of underage drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this bestselling novel is about a teen girl's reasons for committing suicide, which she articulates in audio tapes she sends to 13 people, mailing them on the day of her death. The book includes discussion of rape, voyeurism, underage drinking, sexism, revenge, and survivor's guilt. There are positive messages here about the importance of treating people with kindness -- and about the price of inaction -- that parents and teachers may want to help teen readers think and talk about.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

When Clay Jensen receives audio tapes in the mail, he's horrified to hear his dead crush's voice coming out of the stereo. Hannah lists 13 reasons why she killed herself and the 13 people responsible for it. Clay is racked with guilt as he waits to hear how he could have been involved in her tragic decision.

Is it any good?


First-time author Jay Asher's story presents the dark side of teen life: drinking, sex, rumor mills, suicides, cries for help, inept or absent adults, and the mean spirit that surrounds the general high school student body. Here everyone's a victim, an enabler, or a perpetrator, and some of the characters are all three, including Hannah Baker. Her tapes and reasoning are, at times, just as selfish and mean as those she accuses. And, although we see some of the 13 characters not showing much remorse, the majority of them are already burdened with "should haves" when Hannah's tapes arrive.

Teens will identify with the sometimes-oppressive culture of high school. For any teens who've had dark thoughts of their own, the aftermath of Hannah's decision and the conclusions Clay reaches hopefully will make them think again. But this book has messages that will reach all teens: Hannah warns that we must "be careful how you treat people, you never know how it will affect them." Readers also will realize that inaction -- whether to stop a crime or a rumor or talk to a troubled student, friend, or child -- can be just as damaging as deliberately inflicting pain.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about suicide. Do books and movies that tackle tough topics such as this one glamorize suicide and other dangerous behaviors, or do they provide an important outlet and opportunities for discussion?

  • Hannah warns her listeners to "be careful how you treat people, you never know how it will affect them." Is this something that teens need to be reminded of? Do you see a lot of bullying and indifference at your own high school?

  • Why do you think this book has remained a bestseller for so many years? 

Book details

Author:Jay Asher
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Topics:Friendship, High school
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:October 8, 2007
Number of pages:309
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12

This review of Thirteen Reasons Why was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byxx1214babyyxx September 6, 2009
I disagree when it said the messages in this book aren't good. Sure, its about teen suicide, and that is a very bad thing, but that isn't what the book is about entirely. In my opinion, the book is about how every little action that you do can affect someones life without you even realizing it. I think it can teach us all that no matter how good someones life looks on the outside, it can be crumbeling on the inside, so just treat each other with kindness and respect. It really helped me out alot.
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written byJess02 April 20, 2010

Excellent Book

I don't see what's terrible about this book. It talks about sucicide, and how she was depressed. Like thousands of teens are today.This book could be very educational, and could teach teens how to choose their actions wisely.
Teen, 14 years old Written bycrushcrush149 March 8, 2010

Perfect in every way

I absolutely loved this book. It's my favorite book of all time. This book is gorgeously written, haunting and just all over great. It deals with topics such as rape, murder, drugs, alcohol, depression and, of course, suicide. Though I know some parents will be a bit protective with letting their kids read this because of the topics but the book is amazing and letting your kid read this will only broaden their horizon and teach them about valuable life lessons. Man that sounded cheesy.


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