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Archives > June's Book of the Month - Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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message 1: by Brittany (new)

Brittany | 3369 comments Mod
Please join us this month in reading Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher!

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Synopsis: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

You don't have to participate in the Group Read - it's entirely up to you, but if you read the book along with us or have already read it, we would love to hear your comments, questions, thoughts, ect. That's what makes the Group Read fun! Please keep from posting too many spoilers early in the month, though, as people might still be reading it. If you feel that you might "spoil" a part of the book by commenting, be sure to put something like "***Spoiler Alert***" or something to let others know to read at their own risk! And make sure to have fun!

message 2: by Daphne (new)

Daphne Delacroix Well I've already read it! So I guess I'll be an audience here :)

message 3: by Daphne (new)

Daphne Delacroix Oh, and BTW, this was a brilliant book...absolutely loved it. A masterpiece...

message 4: by Brittany (new)

Brittany | 3369 comments Mod
I'm a little over half-way through with this so far. I love the pacing and the writing in general, but the message of the book, I feel, is leading me up to a rant. Forgive me if I post a long rant tomorrow. Fair warning...

message 5: by Kristina (new)

Kristina | 66 comments I read this book last year and it was absolutely amazing. I love the story although very sad and frustrating at times, it keeps me involved in the characters lives. I can't wait to hear what others think about the book.

message 6: by Brittany (last edited Jun 06, 2013 03:13PM) (new)

Brittany | 3369 comments Mod
Okay, so now that I've finished the book, I guess I wont rant quite as much as I thought I was going to.

I've always been a little leery of books about suicide. When I was going through high school, I felt and experienced quite a bit of what Hannah felt, though my circumstances weren't exactly the same as her's. I come from a family with a long line of depression and everyone in my immediate family suffers from it, as well as cousins and aunts and so forth. Suffice it was to say I was predisposed for it.

From the time I was in seventh or eighth grade I started to show signs of depression. And on top of that, it seemed as if my family was hardly able to recover from one misfortunate event before the next happened. If my father wasn't laid off from work, then our car was breaking down. If my mother couldn't find a job, then our kitchen would flood. Then add deaths of loved ones, friends, and those close to you. Add an unbearable dose of self-loathing. Take away any sort of self-worth and confidence and you had me.

To be completely honest, and unlike Hannah, I can't really pinpoint exactly what made me believe my life was so horrible. Sure, my family had financial problems and we were living from one pay check to the next, but I was never really able to get myself out of the funk. I was practically invisible as school. I had very few real friends, but I had several pleasant acquaintances. No one really thought of me as much of anything, I guess. I felt like I wasn't measuring up to my potential. For those of you who can understand, people who fall into depression tend to see the world in black and white. Either everything is dandy or everything is going to hell. And for someone like me, one little thing that went wrong felt like a great misfortune. A lot of you probably pride yourself on something, whether its a hobby or whatever. Well, mine was school. I had to get the best grades or I was convinced that my chances at getting into a good school or getting a scholarship were ruined. I generally made As in classes, but it I ever got a B or - heaven forbid - a C, it felt like my whole world was coming to an end.

I understand now that that is rather rediculous thinking. One small grade doesn't matter much in the grand scheme of things, but back then it was all I had. I hated the way I looked. I hated that my family was poor. I hated that my birth father abandoned me and I hated that my uncle took away any sort of dignity I had. (I'm not going into all the gory details. Suffice it is to say, I don't stay alone with my uncle anymore. Let your imagination go where it might.)

And, like Hannah said, things sort of snowballed by the time I was going through high school. People would say something that was probably intended to be a joke, but I took it to heart. Like the book means to say, you never really know how your actions might hurt someone else, no matter how insignificant.

Eventually, things got to be too much for me to bear. I started cutting. No, not as a cry for help. But to actually help with the pain I felt inside. As a means to pull all those negative feelings about myself out. It worked for a while. (And, NO, I DO NOT CONDONE THIS BEHAVIOR) My mom eventually found out and ended up taking me to a therapist and I got on some medicine that helped for a while.

Remember, we were still very much in need of money at the time. It wasn't until the first bill came for my therapy that I realized how much my sessions were draining our family funds. In addition, the medicine wasn't exactly helping matters financially, either. This only made me feel worse. I felt like I was taking away from my family much needed funds. I continued treatment, though, for anxiety and depression.

But school didn't get better. I was bogged down with AP and Honors classes, convincing myself that nothing more than perfect would do. But I was setting myself up for hurt in that sort of thinking. To be completely honest, I don't remember what set me over the edge. I was still cutting at the time and I think it was rumors that were going around about me and that no one seemed to want to know the real me, either. In that respect, I greatly felt for Hannah. I'd experienced similar things. Eventually, things got to be too much.

I planned on ways to kill myself. Like Hannah, I'd have a weird fascination with it. I thought of cutting my wrists, but that would leave a big mess for my family to see and clean. I thought about a gun, but that would be a mess, too, and I didn't want my family to find me in a way that would be too traumatizing for them. So pills was the cleanest and, quite frankly, the easiest option. I even knew WHICH pills I would take to get the job done.

But one thought kept me from going through with it: that it was selfish. Suicide is an easy way to deal with pain. It's a pleasant thought to an individual who is severely depressed, that if life ever became too hard to bear that one could simply end it all then and there. But I couldn't quite bring myself to put my family and the few friends I had through that.

That thought was what led me to talk to a trusted teacher. That action, mine alone, led me and my parents to agree to sent me to the hospital for treatment. I spent a week there, getting daily group and single therapy treatments, as well as getting my medicine adjusted. After I left, I continued to see my therapist on a bi-weekly basis.

Now, six years later, I have just finished seeing my therapist - but I'm still taking medicine. I haven't contemplated suicide since the day I went to the hospital.

And I'm glad that, unlike Hannah, I didn't give up on myself. I didn't let myself fall into the self-destructive path that she did. When I found myself talking to my teacher and school counselor - they actually cried. Cried because they loved and cared for me. My mother and father, too. I've only ever seen my father cry twice, once was the time he found out I wanted to end my life. When I was in the hospital, I got mail every day. Get well cards from everyone at my church. When I came back to school, I had friends and even those I didn't even know very well say they were happy to see me again. To see me happy.

I didn't realize until I nearly gave up how much people cared about me. And how much my decision to end my own life wouldn't have affected only me, but them, too.

I guess this is why I had such a hard time feeling any sympathy for Hannah. Having gone through similar events in my life, I felt frustrated with how easily she was giving up. About how selfish she was too take her own life and leave everyone behind sorry and wondering what-if.

I'm not going to defend a lot of the people on the tapes. Many were just down-right horrible and deserved to be blamed for giving Hannah further reason to hurt herself. But in the end, it was her decision alone.

I'm glad she finally admitted to this in the last fifty pages, otherwise I would've felt very cheated by the book.

But I'm still frustrated by the fact that, toward the end, when she needed it the most, she didn't give those she loved a chance to help her. Like with Clay, she pushed him away. And then walked away from Mr. Porter (Though, admittedly, I would've been pretty pissed by what he said, too.) But what about the teacher who taught Peer Communications? She seemed like someone who would've understood and listened to Hannah. Or even her parents! I know she explained that her parents were busy with the family business, but NO parent who cares about their child would turn away from them or claim to be too busy if they simply said, "Hey, I need help. I need you."

I dunno. I some ways I really felt for Hannah. Life isn't easy. Especially her's. But that doesn't mean we are beyond redemption. She might have felt that she couldn't be saved, but she could have. If only she had really wanted to.

So that ends my rant.

Don't get me wrong. I liked the book. It was an original idea, the pacing was great, and it kept me engaging, but I just felt that Hannah didn't fight hard enough.

Which is really sad, because she probably would've made something great of herself.

message 7: by Rann (new)

Rann (thickpages) | 1 comments This is a life-shaping book for me :)

message 8: by Annabelle (new)

Annabelle (hazeleyedasian) | 49 comments Daphne wrote: "Oh, and BTW, this was a brilliant book...absolutely loved it. A masterpiece..."

Agreed! It's amazing, and I can't believe it's Ashers' first novel.

message 9: by Sapir (new)

Sapir | 12 comments Do you recommend me to read it? I'm not entirely sure about it... :P

message 10: by Brittany (new)

Brittany | 3369 comments Mod
I think it was definitely worth a recommendation, Sapir. Even though I was a little frustrated at times with it. XD

message 11: by Annabelle (new)

Annabelle (hazeleyedasian) | 49 comments Sapir, I'm 100% with Brittany. It's frustration in the best way possible, though, and the type that means you have a truly talented author writing.

message 12: by Kath (new)

Kath Lau (kath_reads) this is one of my favorites :)

message 13: by Manon (new)

Manon (Manonandbooks) | 18 comments I'm reading it now and sometimes I think it's really weird who is thinking or talking.
But I really want to know what's going to happen next :D

message 14: by Brittany (new)

Brittany | 3369 comments Mod
Manon wrote: "I'm reading it now and sometimes I think it's really weird who is thinking or talking.
But I really want to know what's going to happen next :D"

Lol, I know what you mean. Sometimes I'd get so involved in digesting the text, I'd be like, "Wait! Who said that?" XD

message 15: by Manon (new)

Manon (Manonandbooks) | 18 comments yesss, that's exactly what I mean! When I started I first thought it was Justin who was listening the tapes :P

message 16: by Nordlys (new)

Nordlys | 35 comments Brittany wrote: "Manon wrote: "I'm reading it now and sometimes I think it's really weird who is thinking or talking.
But I really want to know what's going to happen next :D"

Lol, I know what you mean. Sometimes..."

Hehe, I kept doing that too, and completely misunderstood. "Wait, why would he say that... Ah, Hannah said that".

message 17: by Annabelle (new)

Annabelle (hazeleyedasian) | 49 comments It's worth getting through all the confusing dialogue, though! It's simply amazing c: And does anyone have the hardcover edition? I liked the map inside the book jacket, it's a great way to follow along.

message 18: by Brittany (new)

Brittany | 3369 comments Mod
I got the paperback edition from the library and it has the map on it as well. It's a nice visual!

message 19: by Annabelle (new)

Annabelle (hazeleyedasian) | 49 comments The paperback, too? That's so cool, I had no clue!

message 20: by Nordlys (last edited Jun 17, 2013 05:08AM) (new)

Nordlys | 35 comments I had the hardcover, and there was no map:(

message 21: by Annabelle (new)

Annabelle (hazeleyedasian) | 49 comments AH, really? Not on the inside of the book jacket?

message 22: by Annabelle (new)

Annabelle (hazeleyedasian) | 49 comments Brittany wrote: "Okay, so now that I've finished the book, I guess I wont rant quite as much as I thought I was going to.

I've always been a little leery of books about suicide. When I was going through high schoo..."

WOW. I'm glad you're still here today c: I have to agree with you. Hannah made me slightly upset (Not nearly as upset as you, I'm assuming) because while everyone truly was awful, she seemed to whine a bit. It was all a lot, and a little here and little there adds up, but... Hmm.

I agree, though. I'm glad Hannah finally admits that she is the one who chose to end her life in the end. It was her decision, even if certain things led to consideration of it. Still, I really liked the novel. Jay Asher... WOW.

message 23: by Cassie (last edited Jun 17, 2013 06:02AM) (new)

Cassie (cannefrye) | 226 comments Mod
I don't have anything against the book personally, but I didn't like Hannah. I don't wish to downplay any of the things that happen, but she took the easy way out. And while it's understandable, the way Hannah went about recording those tapes seemed to make her gesture that much more selfish. And it didn't endear me to her character at all.

But it's definitely a thought provoking story. One that I believe is worth reading, in the end. And I am glad I read it. Suicide is a very difficult topic to write about, but I think Jay did a pretty decent job (overall).

message 24: by Kat (new)

Kat (kaitlins16) I really love this book, and part of it has to do with the flaws and weaknesses.

I don't believe Hannah was meant to be a likeable character, and I think most people disagree with her actions. That's kind of the whole point. Not every person reacts to the things that Hannah described with strength. A lot of times, people do" take the easy way out," and although we may not a agree with it, the fact is that suicide happens. A lot. The whole point of the book wasn't supposed to show strength, but weakness. If Hannah had not committed suicide, and had instead chose to live and recover, the whole book would've been different.

I absolutely love books like this. It's about a tough subject, and the outcome is not a happy one. It shows a reality that doesn't contain what we want to happen.

I hardly ever look at character's weaknesses and criticize them for not being something I wish they could've been. I just accept them for who they really are because I can't change them. If they happen to be more flawed than not, I take that opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

message 25: by Brittany (new)

Brittany | 3369 comments Mod
@ Annabelle - Thanks for your kind words. I've done a lot of growing up since all that (thank god, lol) and have learned to think very differently about things. Despite my long rant, I still really liked the book. Yes, Hannah was a little whiny, but I could understand her frustration with her circumstances and those around her. I just wish she had reached out to more people than a MALE teacher. Anyway, ya'll know how I feel. XD

@ Cassie - Took the easy way out, exactly! That's what irritated me so much. There could've been so many different times she could've reached out. I understand how hard things can be, and I don't want to downplay that seriousness like you, but I just wish she could've done things differently. :/ Especially when your life is at stake.

message 26: by Brittany (new)

Brittany | 3369 comments Mod
Kaitlin wrote: "I really love this book, and part of it has to do with the flaws and weaknesses.

I don't believe Hannah was meant to be a likeable character, and I think most people disagree with her actions. Tha..."

A very thought provoking post. :) I think you bring up a lot of valid points.

I think there's a difference between weakness and being downright selfish, though. Most people who have been pushed so far, like Hannah, wouldn't have pushed people away like she did. Perhaps a casual acquaintance, but I don't think it was fair of her to push away Clay when he offered help, specially given how much they cared about each other. At least she admitted to being in the wrong about that in the tapes. Additionally, she didn't even try to speak to her parents about what was going on. I know they're probably not the first people someone decides to go to when having trouble, but they would've been the ones that were MOST likely to get her help and listen to her. Instead, she decided to just end it all after some narrow-minded bastard told her to just "forget about it." (Still angry at that character, lol)

I dunno. I guess that's the reason I tend to avoid books such as these. I read to escape and enjoy a story, not to be slapped in the face with reality.

Either way, though, I still think it's a beautifully written book.

message 27: by Annabelle (new)

Annabelle (hazeleyedasian) | 49 comments Of course! I'm glad you have c: Just sucks that it takes so much to sometimes finallt be able to do that. LOL agreed!

message 28: by Lo (new)

Lo (darkalleycookies) | 16 comments I can see why this book is a best-seller, but I didn't like it.

message 29: by Brittany (new)

Brittany | 3369 comments Mod
Care to elaborate? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts since so many people have praised it so far. :)

message 30: by Lo (last edited Jun 21, 2013 05:31PM) (new)

Lo (darkalleycookies) | 16 comments I felt like the girl was sort of, in a way, complaining to get attention? I realize she's dead now, but the way she made it sound in the types was as if she wanted everyone to pity her. The truth is, while Hannah's problems were awful, there are worse things. Maybe she was just the type of person who couldn't handle it, but I think one of the worst among those was the part where she got raped. Obviously she didn't provoke the rape, as no one EVER provokes rape, but she didn't have to go to that girl's house. She knew what was going to happen, and she didn't fight it. Yes, she was looking for one last thing to make her want to commit suicide. But she didn't have to. She could've done other things. She could've called the police on that pervert boy. She could have kicked Marcus in the face (not literally, but let him know what a fart he was.) That friend of hers who chose to believe other losers over Hannah probably wasn't that great of a friend anyway, etc. I know it's hard. I'm a teen, so I should've been able to connect with Hannah, but I couldn't.

And the ending didn't do it for me. Clay just finished hearing this awful, heart-breaking story. I felt like Jay Asher just wrote a five-minute ending to go along with the rest of it.

I ca see why it's a best-seller because this is the kind of book that is supposed to appeal to teens, especially the misunderstood. But really, I feel like it only targeted the flatter teenagers (like, flat characters? Flat teenagers), the ones with problems that, compared to others, are not as bad.

The rape was definitely the worst part for me. And in the end, when she went to go talk to the teacher, to be honest, what could the teacher have really done? Yes, he DEFINITELY should have chased after. He was stupid for not doing so. But if I were him, I wouldn't know what to say either. I think it would be more realistic if the guy called a suicide hotline or whatever, as he is a counselor-adult-teacher guy. I just...I feel like Hannah didn't have to commit suicide. And maybe she wasn't strong enough to deal with it. But there were other options, I think.

message 31: by K.J. (new)

K.J. Madsen | 6 comments Brittany wrote: "Okay, so now that I've finished the book, I guess I wont rant quite as much as I thought I was going to.

I've always been a little leery of books about suicide. When I was going through high schoo..."

Great rant, Brittany! Sharing your story is not easy, but you did it well, and I totally agree with your wise decision that to end things would be selfish - you thought of others, which shows incredible depth of character. All of us in life are 'munted' (kiwi word for damaged)! in some way or other - and we all have to choose how much hurt we will inflict on others with our decisions. You chose right. Hannah chose wrong. It was like during the book she was shutting herself down, one decision after another - but she had already decided at the beginning that no-one could help. It says in the Bible that no-one can truly understand another's pain...but what we can do is listen, grieve with, and walk alongside, through the pain. Hannah never really gave anyone that opportunity, until after her death when it was too late.

13 Reasons was a thought provoking book, but I also have to agree that the spa pool scene killed it for me - it didn't make sense and seemed 'weak' within the context of the whole story. I was gripped whilst reading it, but frustrated at the same time. But wow, the power of words and how we use them in every day life. If it reminded me of anything, it was to use words wisely - to bring life, not death.

message 32: by Shea (new)

Shea (ripperbuffy) I loved this book and how it was set up. It was great because you got to see her point of view on what people did through the tapes.

message 33: by FallingAngels (new)

FallingAngels | 6 comments This book was beautiful! I know people who think it's wrong to read books about death and suicide (Hey, there's this new book called The Hunger Games, why don't you give it a try?) but I loved this. It was so easy to say "Just one more tape!""Oh, this sounds like a good one!""Oh, it's Clay's! I have to!""Well, it would be a shame not to finish." And then, soon it was midnight and I realized I was still up. (Thank goodness my mom's birthday, and my parents were at a party!) I know everyone says they couldn't put it down, but this was one of two books I literally wouldn't put down! (The other was the final book in my favorite book series as a kid, which I read during my own B-day party! The guests were wondering where the heck I was XD) This was, is, and will continue to be my favorite book in realistic fiction.

message 34: by Somya (new)

Somya | 178 comments I wanted to kill Courtney and Bryce

message 35: by Lo (new)

Lo (darkalleycookies) | 16 comments I wanted to kill a lot of them.

message 36: by Alex (new)

Alex (xalex) | 2 comments My opinion about this book is contrary to you guys. I loved the general idea with the tapes and everything, but to be honest, the reasons why she would actually do what she did seemed ridiculous. Sure it wasn't nice what everyone did, but really? Nope, I don't think so. I was really annoyed and frustrated after 100 pages that it pained me to actually get through it.

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