What is the setting, external and internal conflicts, plot, and themes in 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher?What would your rating be for this book and why?

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estoverl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Asher's book is so full of conflict and unsettling themes that it has been banned from many schools. The main topic of the book is suicide.

Setting - The story takes place in the present, around a small town in California. It could be any small to medium sized town. Several settings around the town such as parks, homes, the local high school and a diner are described as the story plays out. 

External Conflict - The main external conflicts are between the main female character and most of the rest of the world in which she lives. This main character has actually committed suicide and the story is told through her words via cassette tapes that she passes on to a friend to tell her story after she is gone. The story describes how she feels isolated and alone because of the constant bullying conflict from many of the people in her life. 

Internal Conflict - The main internal conflict is of course Hannah as she spirals toward taking her own life and finally does so. The other internal conflict exists in Clay, the teenager who received the cassettes Hannah created to tell her story of bullying and eventual suicide after her passing. Clay and Hannah were fond of each other but never connected enough to allow a relationships to develop that might have saved her life. Clay feels guilt and conflict about this but eventually turns it positive and tries to help another girl he sees that is in a similar situation as Hannah. 

Plot - The plot line follows Hannah's increasing isolation and hopelessness as she is mistreated by those around her on several occasions. Toward the end of her life, she turns on herself and becomes self destructive. With each cruelty she experiences, the plot crescendos toward her eventual suicide.

Themes - Suicide and depression are prevalent throughout the book. Responsibility in the form of being responsible for actions that might be considered bullying by others and how that might impact them is another theme. Another thread running through the story is that of reputation. Several of the events that happen to Hannah impact her reputation which causes her to become more isolated and depressed each time. 

Rating - I would rate this book a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 because the subject is so timely and relevant even years after it was written. Teenagers should have it as required reading in order to open their eyes to the harm that cruelty and bullying can bring to another human being. 

jessecreations eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My rating would be 5 stars. I think this is a great book that most teens should read, because it shows the real consequences of the way you treat people.

Setting - the entire story takes place in a small town where Clay lives.  He follows Hannah's map around town, visiting the places that were significant to her story.

Conflicts - External:  Hannah vs. everyone else.  Hannah had conflicts with the people she describes on the tapes.  Internal:  Clay vs. his emotions, Hannah vs. herself.  Clay wrestles with his feelings as he hears Hannah's story, and Hannah herself has conflicting emotions as she prepares the tapes.

Plot - Clay finds a box of cassette tapes on his front door.  When he listens to them, he discovers that they were made by Hannah Baker just before she killed herself.  The tapes guide Clay through Hannah's life, detailing the significant people and events that led to her decision to kill herself.

Themes - suicide/suicide prevention, the impact of words and actions on others

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Thirteen Reasons Why

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