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Themes

Death creeps into every line of <em>Thirteen Reasons Why</em>, which centers on the audio-taped suicide note of teenage Hannah Baker. We listen along with Clay Jensen, Hannah's almost-true-love, as Hannah traces her high school days, from first kiss to last words. What starts as occasional thoughts of suicide turn to solid plans and, as we know from the beginning, a fatal overdose of pills. We don't see Clay long enough after he listens to the tapes to know exactly how they change him, but the ending gives us something to go on: he reaches out to Skye Miller, a girl portrayed as a possible suicide risk. This suggests that he has become more aware of his own power to make life worth living for others who seem to have lost hope.

Questions About Death

  1. Do you think Jay Asher is intending to raise awareness of and prevent suicide? Why or why not? Use examples from the text to support your answer.
  2. Do you think any of the people on the tapes will be at risk for suicide after hearing them? If so, who? What makes you think that?
  3. What, if anything, do you think Clay could have done to help Hannah?
  4. How would this book have been different if we didn't know at the beginning if Hannah had gone through with her suicide?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a book about life, not about death.

Hannah's death is not in vain; it teaches Clay that life is more fragile and complicated than he knew.

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