It still hasn’t found a readership on the scale of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars or Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, but Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why is one of the finest YA novels to emerge in the past decade – as well as one that deserves serious praise for its willingness to grapple with the heavy topic of teen suicide in an uncompromisingly honest way. That’s why it’s so exciting to learn today that Netflix is committing to a 13-episode miniseries adaptation of the novel exec-produced by teen idol Selena Gomez.
Asher’s book centered on a high schooler named Clay (yet to be cast), who is stunned one night to receive a shoe-box filled with cassette tapes from his classmate and crush, Hannah (reportedly played by Gomez), who recently took her own life. Listening, Clay is stunned to hear Hannah’s voice, explaining that there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself – and that Clay is one of them. As he follows her instructions, visiting various locations in his town and crossing paths with other people who played into Hannah’s decision, Clay discovers things about her – and himself – that change his life forever.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Brian Yorkey scripted the pilot and will write all episodes of the series, on which Gomez, Mandy Teefey, Kristel Laiblin and Anonymous Content will serve as executive producers. No confirmation yet on whether Gomez will be taking on the part of Hannah, but Netflix would undoubtedly be overjoyed to lock the A-lister down for an original series.
The streaming service, already courting teenagers with its upcoming adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, has its work cut out for it with this series. Marketing will be particularly easy if it can lock down Gomez for the lead role and another young star for the part of Clay, but Thirteen Reasons Why nevertheless tells a story that will resonate with an absolutely huge audience the streaming service has yet to directly engage. Fingers crossed that Asher is closely involved with the production – but either way, it’s simply terrific to see such an under-read addition to the YA genre find new life like this.