13 Books to Read If You Loved 13 Reasons Why
Netflix's hit original series, 13 Reasons Why, follows Clay Jensen, a high school student who is given 13 audiotapes from his best friend, Hannah Baker, that explain events leading up to her tragic death by suicide. As he listens to the tapes, he uncovers shocking secrets about Hannah and his other classmates. The show is based off of Jay Asher's 2007 YA novel of the same name, and Netflix is about to release season two. The narrative delves into complex issues such as bullying, sexual assault, suicide, betrayal, and more. For similar stories, check out these other captivating novels.
Looking For Alaska
Before tugging at heartstrings with The Fault in Our Stars, John Green wrote his first novel, Looking For Alaska, in 2005. The award-winning bestseller centers on the life of high school junior Miles Halter. The new kid at a predatory school, Miles is befriended by a group of students, including wildly complicated, self-destructive, and beautiful Alaska Young. Miles quickly develops feelings for Alaska, who is haunted by a tragic past that has left her emotionally unavailable. As the two grow closer and Miles begins to unpack the complexity of Alaska, a shocking turn of events leaves him reeling and changed forever.
Before I Fall
The basis for the 2017 major motion picture of the same name, Lauren Oliver's debut novel, Before I Fall, was released in 2010. The story follows 17-year-old Sam Kingston, a girl who is killed in a car accident. After recounting the vivid and horrifying moments of her death, Sam wakes up the next morning in her own bed — the same morning of the accident. For weeks, Sam is stuck in a time loop, forced to relive the last day of her life over and over again until she gets it right. With each day that passes, she uncovers surprising details about her death, reevaluates her relationships, and grows as a person.
Written in 1999 by Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak follows Melinda Sordino, a freshman at Merryweather High. Though the year has just begun, Mel is withdrawn and quiet, isolating herself from her friends and family before refusing to speak altogether. The novel unfolds over the course of a year, as Mel comes to grips with her rape by a senior student, first admitting to herself that it happened, then fighting back when it almost happens again — finally finding her voice to speak up about the brutality she suffered.
The Lovely Bones
Fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon is in heaven. As she tries to navigate her newfound surroundings, she recounts the troubling events that led to her arrival there in the first place: her 1973 rape and brutal murder. From her perch in heaven, Susie looks down at what she left behind on Earth, including her family and friends who struggle to cope with their unexpected loss, as well as the dangerous events surrounding the search for the person responsible for her murder. A national bestseller, Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones was adapted to film in 2009 by Peter Jackson.
All the Bright Places
Teenagers Theodore Finch and Violet Markey first meet at the top of the bell tower in their small Indiana town, each with their own suicidal intentions. Their untoward interaction sparks a friendship (and later romance) that helps Violet cope with her sister's death and allows Finch, who suffers from severe mental illness, to find a bright spot in his mind. However, while their relationship helps Violet grow, it causes an unexpected downward spiral for Finch. A New York Times bestseller, Jennifer Niven's 2015 novel, All the Bright Places, is heart-wrenching, captivating, and unputdownable.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Though he struggles to fit in at first, high school freshman Charlie is befriended by senior Sam and her stepbrother. As he becomes more comfortable with his group of friends and comes out of his shell, he begins to experiment with drugs, alcohol, and romantic relationships. However, Charlie's complicated family life and repressed memories of sexual abuse begin to hinder his newfound happiness. Abortion, homosexuality, body image, eating disorders, depression, and suicide are some of the other topics touched upon in Stephen Chbosky's 1999 coming-of-age novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Go Ask Alice
First published in 1971, the cautionary tale of Go Ask Alice has endured for over 40 years. Written anonymously in the form of a diary, the novel follows a teenage girl who experiments with drugs, leading her down a dangerous road of addiction. The novel also touches on issues such as prostitution, rape, child sexual abuse, homelessness, mental illness, familial and romantic relationships, and the hardships of recovery.
Senior year of high school is challenging for any teenager, but it's especially hard for Valerie Leftman. This is because five months ago, Valerie's boyfriend opened fire on their classmates in the cafeteria, picking targets from a hate list that they created together. Though she didn't know his intentions and was even shot while trying to save another student, Valerie was held partially responsible. Jennifer Brown's Hate List follows Valerie during the trying months of her return to school, where she attempts to navigate her relationships with family and friends, understand the complicated feelings toward her boyfriend, whom she still loves, and come to grips with what led to her role in such a tragedy.
By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead
Written by Julie Anne Peters, National Book Award finalist By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead centers on Daelyn, a teenage girl who has attempted suicide a number of times. Now, more determined than ever to be successful, she visits a website for "completers," where she opens up about her lifelong experience with bullying and abuse. However, the sudden attention from a boy at school throws all of Daelyn's plans into the air, leaving her more conflicted than ever. The 2011 novel exposes the true consequences of bullying and tackles topics such as self-harm, teen suicide, depression, and more.
Everything Is Fine
In her 2009 novel, Everything Is Fine, Ann Dee Ellis chronicles the life of Mazzy. Just a young girl, Mazzy's once-happy family life has turned to one of hardship; her father has taken a job out of state, leaving her behind as the caretaker to her mother, who is left emotionally catatonic after a mysterious tragedy. The poignant story follows Mazzy's struggle to adjust to the adult responsibilities suddenly thrust upon her, all while she must navigate the brink of her teenage years, including puberty, complicated friendships, and a new romance.
If I Stay
The basis for the 2014 romantic drama of the same name, Gayle Forman's novel If I Stay centers on 17-year-old Mia Hall. After a morning drive goes horribly wrong, Mia is left the sole survivor of her family, though she just barely makes it out alive herself. En route to the hospital, Mia's consciousness leaves her body, allowing her to watch events postaccident unfold. She watches her extended family and friends gather around her in grief, all the while remembering her previous life just moments before, including her relationship with her boyfriend, Adam, and her passion for the cello. Toeing the line of life and death, Mia must decide whether to succumb to her injuries and join her now-deceased family or fight to live a life that will be forever changed.
Try Not to Breathe
After her alcoholism destroyed both her marriage and career, defamed journalist Alex Dale is searching for redemption. She finds her savior in the unlikely form of Amy Stevenson, a brutal assault victim who has been in a coma for the past 15 years. Holly Seddon's 2016 novel, Try Not to Breathe, drifts from Amy's consciousness as she remembers the last moments she spent awake to the dangerous path Alex begins to follow as she investigates a crime of the past that she hopes will alter her future.
Each year, the girls at Mount Washington High School are scrutinized, as the prettiest and ugliest member of each class year is posted on an anonymously created list. Siobhan Vivian's 2014 New York Times bestselling novel, The List, follows the lives of eight girls — two from each class year — as they struggle with being placed on the list and how it affects their self-esteem, personal identity, body image, and ability to cope with how they are seen through the eyes of others.