Thirteen Reasons Why Summary

Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why

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Thirteen Reasons Why Summary

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is the heartrending tale of a teen suicide from the dual perspectives of Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker. The author was inspired to write the novel based on incidents that happened in his high school.

Hannah Baker, a sophomore at Liberty High School, committed suicide two weeks ago. Before her death, she recorded two sets of cassette tapes detailing thirteen reasons why she decided to die. The tapes come with a map around town that each listener is to physically follow while listening to the tapes. Hannah mails a set of the tapes to a classmate with explicit instructions to pass them from one student to the next on the list. Each student who listens to the tapes learns the reasons for her tragic death and his or her role in it.

Clay Jensen is a former classmate of Hannah, who had a crush on her. He finds a package with his name on it on his front porch when he comes home from school. Inside, he finds the cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker. Even though he cannot change the past, Clay listens to all the tapes. Hannah guides him all over town. By following her instructions, Clay witnesses Hannah’s pain first-hand.

Before Clay receives the tapes, they had been sent to other people. Justin Foley listened first. Hannah had had a crush on Justin, and they had kissed once. Justin embellished the romantic encounter saying they had done more than simply kiss. Justin’s lies had given Hannah the reputation of being a slut.

Alex Standall, a former friend of Hannah, was the second person to listen to the tapes. He had published a list comparing the girls at school. He had awarded Hannah “Best Ass of the Class” while his ex-girlfriend Jessica Davis had earned “Worst Ass” to get back at her for breaking up with him.

Jessica Davis, the third person to receive the tapes, had scarred Hannah both literally and figuratively. Angered by the list Alex had published, Jessica had slapped Hannah across the forehead, leaving a scar. The slap had also ended their friendship.

Tyler Down, the yearbook photographer, received the tapes next. He is accused of being a peeping Tom and taking pictures of Hannah through her bedroom window.

Courtney Carver, the friend Hannah had enlisted to help catch Tyler in the act, was the fifth person to receive the tapes. After spending time in Hannah’s bedroom, Courtney had claimed that she and Hannah had given each other sexual massages with sex toys.

While listening to Courtney’s tape, Clay bumps into Skye Miller getting on the city bus. Clay had had a crush on Skye when they were in middle school. They speak briefly before Clay gets off the bus.

Marcus Cooley listens next. After getting the result that he and Hannah are a good match in a Valentine’s Day survey, he had made sexual advances on her in a booth at Rosie’s Diner. Hannah had had to shove him out of the booth and onto the floor to get him to stop.

Zach Dempsey is the seventh person to receive the tapes. He had attempted to comfort Hannah after the incident with Marcus. She had not responded. Feeling ignored, Zach took revenge by stealing notes of encouragement left for Hannah in a Peer Communications class.

Ryan Shaver, the eighth person, had also betrayed Hannah’s trust. Ryan had stolen Hannah’s poem from poetry class, in which she wrote about very personal problems. He published the poem anonymously in the school paper. Classmates realized Hannah had written the poem, and she endured further ridicule at school. Thanks to Ryan, even Hannah’s deepest and most intimate thoughts had not been free from judgment.

After listening to Ryan’s story, Clay leaves Rosie’s Diner. His friend Tony tells him that he has a second set of tapes. If the listeners don’t follow Hannah’s dying wishes, the second set will be made public. Tony refuses to answer any of Clay’s questions until he listens to the next recording.

The ninth story features Clay. Hannah apologizes to him for including him in the tapes as he was in no way responsible for her suicide. She wishes she had gotten to know him better as he had been good to her. Once at a party, they had made out, but Hannah, remembering Justin’s lies, had become upset and asked Clay to leave. While hiding in the closet crying, Hannah had witnessed Bryce Walker’s rape of an unconscious classmate.

Tony explains to Clay that he after he found the tapes, he tried to warn Hannah’s parents before she committed suicide, but it was too late. He has been helping to make sure everyone follows Hannah’s dying wishes.

Jenny Kurtz, the eleventh person, had knocked over a stop sign while giving Hannah a ride home from the party. A fatal accident at the intersection had then killed one of their classmates because Jenny had refused to report the incident.

Bryce Walker, the twelfth person, raped Hannah in a hot tub. After the rape, Hannah had confided to the school counselor, Mr. Porter, the thirteenth person on the list, that she was suicidal. In the secretly recorded the conversation, Mr. Porter advised her to report the rape to authorities or to move on.

After Clay mails the tapes to Jenny, the novel ends with him bumping into Skye at school the next day. Clay reaches out to her because he suspects that she, too, might be suicidal.

Jay Author writes novels for young adults. He had the idea for his debut novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, while listening to the female audio tour narrator at a museum. He was also inspired to write the novel based on incidents that happened in his high school. The novel inspired a Netflix original series.