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Thirteen Reasons Why
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June 2017: Coming of Age > Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher - 4 starts

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Kelly | 782 comments Thirteen Reasons Why is a book with two main characters. There is Clay who is alive and Hannah who is now dead. The reader follows Clay as he listens to audiotapes Hannah recorded. Each one with a story stating one of the 13 reasons she committed suicide. A person is connected to each reason. The first person was sent the tapes and instructed to listen to them and pass them on to the next one who is talked about.

The author, Jay Asher, did a good job shifting between the tapes and Clay. Asher creates suspense as the reader wonders who Hannah would talk about next and what the reasons would be.

Although Hannah may come across as strong when relaying the stories, this is not how she feels. She is falling apart and giving up. Her own actions are not always perfect and she acknowledges this. By the time others get the tapes it is unfortunately too late to help Hannah, but some of the listeners will be changed themselves. I can understand why this book and the TV series based on it are such talked about topics. It is a complicated subject.


message 2: by Joi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joi (missjoious) | 3782 comments I really liked this book-reading it basically in a day.

I'm watching the netflix series now- definitely has some liberties taken and some things changed- I saw it was picked up for a 2nd season. Since the book doesn't have a sequel or anything I wonder what they will put in the 2nd season.....


message 3: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) Thanks for your review, Kelly. I read tons of articles about the TV series and reviews of the book, and I really don't know what to think. Some people think along your lines, while others say the TV series talks about suicide in too lighthearted a way and that it glorifies suicide in a way. I really don't think I will have guts enough to either read the book or watch the series, the subject matter is too close to home for me.


Kelly | 782 comments Marina wrote: "Thanks for your review, Kelly. I read tons of articles about the TV series and reviews of the book, and I really don't know what to think. Some people think along your lines, while others say the T..."

I am sorry this book hits too close to home, I certainly understand someone choosing not to read it. I have a teenage daughter and many of her classmates are watching the show. She has not seen it, but we have now talked a lot about about what happens in it. Not to glorify anything in it, but as a discussion of some of the character's reasons that are situations many kids could face today.


message 5: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) Kelly, I think it's important to talk about such things with kids. Kudos to you for approaching such a difficult subject with your daughter.


message 6: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments I've been hesitant to read the book or watch the series. I'm a psychologist and specialize in depression and suicide. My research is all centered on suicide. My colleagues (experts in suicide prevention research) who have seen the series have expressed many concerns about it. I should probably read it to form my own opinions.


message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8282 comments I've felt the same. Like for me it would be an oversaturation. I'm not sure how I feel about the exposure of this material, and still have yet to form an opinion. But certainly aren't looking towards that series or book anytime soon.


message 8: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7694 comments I also do not plan to read the book or watch the series. My SIL is a high school science teacher and she has had several students over her brief tenure commit suicide. It is absolutely heartbreaking. I personally don't like teen suicide being used as a plot devise.

It is the same reason I refuse to read Me Before You.

However, Kelly, I whole-heartedly applaud your using this popular book/show to have a difficult discussion with your daughter. Sounds like she is very lucky to have a mom like you!


message 9: by Joi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joi (missjoious) | 3782 comments For those who haven't read- the main problem I think people (including professionals) are having is that the book/show seems show that suicide will help "get back" or "get revenge" on those who you are leaving behind. I wouldn't say the show takes a "light-hearted" approach, but I can see how some see that it glorifys suicide.

On the flip side, it always shows how just one person can make a difference in helping someone- and potentially save a life. Seems like a lot of pressure to put on any teenager.

I don't know, I enjoyed it. I don't have a personal connection, nor am I trying to read into it too much. Taking the book/show at a personal face value for myself. The book was super consumable, readable. The show is very suspenseful so it sucks you in. I'm actually about halfway though and avoiding the next episode because I think the (view spoiler) subject is going to be much harder for met to watch than the suicide subject. But I plan on finishing the series out.


message 10: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments My colleagues who have seen the show (I don't believe they read the book) talk about suicide contagion (supported by empirical research that shows clusters of suicide/self-harm behavior when there is wide-spread attention/media publication of suicide). But more problematically, they discuss how the show simplifies the issue of suicide as being one, like Joi mentions above, that is a result of how other people behave toward you -- aka a revenge behavior." My colleagues have told me that it ignores some of the mental health issues that often underlie the problem and while social/interpersonal stressors and trauma are certainly related to suicide, the picture is not so simple.

In contrast, I've also heard arguments that it is a show that allows for discussion of issues like trauma and bullying.

Like Nicole R, I feel like the book/show uses suicide as a plot device and I don't like that. But I haven't read it so it's hard to make that judgment.


message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8282 comments On the other hand, since everyone's talking about it, I actually used in the popularity of the show and to talk to my sons school guidance counselor about the bullying policy at the school, and the dangers of not addressing situations as they arise. I describe how my understanding of this book in series is that at every turn it was an opportunity for intervention that went untaken. That they were multiple opportunities for this young girl to get validation and to have somebody take notice and actually do something about it. And it each of the 13 scenarios, an opportunity was lost. I also added that as a psychologist and a mother, I can see that our research and practice shows us that the secondary trauma of lack of validation is often worse and more devastating then the original incident. Can you guess I was unhappy with how our school failed to deal with a very difficult situation that happened? In this day and age, that shocking! I actually said that the incident would have been damaging to anyone, and that while I wasn't worried for my kid, What might've happened to a kid who was less confident, who didn't have a ring of supportive family and friends? I think this series shows us how important proper intervention is. I'm hopeful that my letter to the school made an impact on how we think about this process. But I think my mention of the popular series that everyone is talking about, I hope that that helps add weight to my argument. I still agree with Jen that it's over exposure, and I worry a little bit about the containment and contagion factor.


message 12: by Jenni Elyse (last edited Jun 11, 2017 12:39PM) (new)

Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1266 comments I haven't read the book and I wasn't going to because of the subject. It's not that I don't think suicide is worth talking about; it was more that I was worried it might be a trigger for me. But, while I've been recuperating, my curiosity got the better of me and I watched the Netflix show.

Here's what I thought and posted on Twitter after I finished it nearly 3 weeks ago. It's very long and very personal.

The last episode was very difficult to watch. I'm kind of mad the suicide was shown so graphically. I can see why this could possibly be a trigger for someone on the verge. And, I also understand why some experts think 13 Reasons Why romanticized suicide. However, I thought the show was very thought-provoking and I related to Hannah oh so well.

I was bullied in school and was suicidal. Fortunately for me, I had a teacher who did listen when I sought help. He helped convince my parents to get me counseling. My mom accepted it much more easily than my dad. It took me nearly a decade to get a handle on my depression and suicidal thoughts. I attempted it twice. My husband helped both times and has been instrumental in my recovery.

I know Hannah was fictional. But I truly wish she could've confided in Clay or someone else. I hope the show won't cause any copycatting. I hope it will do more good than not.

But, I'm afraid that teens in Hannah's shoes won't see the story as intended. They won't see it as "you're not alone." They won't see it as "if Hannah had confided in Clay or her parents, she'd still be alive." They'll see it as "she had every good reason to do what she did." I truly hope that's not the case, but I'm afraid that's what's going to happen for some. (Unfortunately, I did find out today a 23-year-old man recently copy catted the show and made tapes before committing suicide. So sad.)

Also, why is Netflix renewing 13 Reasons Why for a second season? The story has been told. Are they going to show the consequences of bullying? That's the only reason a second season is okay in my opinion.

They need to focus on the repercussions and not drag it out. (view spoiler) I hope the producers/directors/Netflix don't drag this out for years because of greed. They need to promote healing.

Also, I wanted to say that my depression is still an on-going battle. But, fortunately, I don't struggle with suicide anymore. I'm lucky. So many people with depression or other medical ailments do. I hope I can continue to not struggle with suicide.

Mental illness is a fickle thing. The sufferer is never in control. Meds aren't a cure. They just help me have more good days than bad ones. But this happens at a price. I've had to suffer countless side effects. I've had to decide what I can deal with more easily--the crushing weight of depression and all its evils or a not so clear mind sometimes, headaches, sleep issues, weight gain, etc. Sometimes, it doesn't feel like the meds help at all. Sometimes, my spoons are spent. (Read this article to know what I mean about spoons.)

But, as someone with mental illness knows all to well, I just keep trucking along. Or as Dory says, "just keep swimming." Sometimes easier said than done, though. When it's tough and even though it's the last thing I want to do I try to surround myself with people who care. Again, I'm lucky because I know who those people are.


message 13: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8282 comments What a brave beautiful insightful share! You are a beautiful person JE with much to offer and much to live for.


Kelly | 782 comments Jenni - I agree with Amy. Thank you for including what you posted on Twitter here also. I appreciate what everyone has said in this category.


message 15: by Jenni Elyse (new)

Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1266 comments Thanks, Amy and Kelly.


message 16: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8118 comments I haven't watched the show (yet, though I likely will), but I did listen to the book on audio a few years back. I don't remember it very well, but I thought it was very good (especially as an audio). But then, I don't have any real experience with teen suicide.


message 17: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) Dear Jenni, I'm glad you decided to share your thoughts and personal experience with us. I agree with Amy, you're very brave. I suffered from depression myself (though not as a teen, it started when I was 19). I struggled with it for more years than I care to remember, and on top of that I have other mental issues, especially a primary one that I won't mention because I had people on GR stop interacting with me because of my mentioning it. There's a lot of stigma still. I was suicidal for some months at the beginning of 2016, and it was extremely bad. That's why I said this book and show hit too close to home for me. And now you say in the show the suicide is very graphical, which makes me understand that I cannot, must not, and will not watch it. Thanks. I've been feeling real well for some months now, so much so that I've been seeing my psychotherapist only once a month instead of once a week. But it's still very, very hard to read/watch about these things.


message 18: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8282 comments You are both brave and beautiful. And you both have a friend in me, that you don't have to fear losing.


message 19: by Tracy (last edited Jun 12, 2017 05:12AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tracy (tstan) | 1182 comments Jenni and Marina, I have tears streaming right now. I'm so sorry you've been in that dark place, but so grateful that you've come out from it. Depression is such a difficult battle. And the fact that so many don't understand it, or stigmatize it, makes the battle harder.
I read the book ages ago, but I don't remember enough to say whether it romanticized suicide.
I do know that the show triggered my son's dormant issues, and we are back to counseling with him. I don't blame a TV show for this, since it could have happened any time, but I can say some may not be strong enough to handle the book or the show.


message 20: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) Amy wrote: "You are both brave and beautiful. And you both have a friend in me, that you don't have to fear losing."

Awwww, Amy, thanks ♥♥♥


message 21: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7694 comments Jenni Elyse wrote: "But, I'm afraid that teens in Hannah's shoes won't see the story as intended. They won't see it as "you're not alone." They won't see it as "if Hannah had confided in Clay or her parents, she'd still be alive." They'll see it as "she had every good reason to do what she did." I truly hope that's not the case, but I'm afraid that's what's going to happen for some..."

This sums up one of my main concerns about the show and the book. Speaking with my SIL who has had several students commit suicide in recent years, she says it is almost like the students only think about their short-term pain and don't seem to make the connection that death is permanent. Students often casually talk about it, which she finds disturbing. The school has some great guidance counselors though who have really ramped up their efforts related to depression and suicide, and I know my SIL talks to many students on a regular basis.


message 22: by Jenni Elyse (new)

Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1266 comments Marina, I'm so sorry. I know how hard it is and I'm glad you're in a better place. I hope you can stay. *hugs*

Tracy and Amy, thank you so much!

Nicole, it is very disturbing that students talk about suicide casually. And, teenagers are often in the frame of mind that they're invincible so even if they don't realize suicide is permanent, I'm not sure they'll see it as permanent for them. It's so sad. I wish there was more we could do for those kids to help them see.


message 23: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8282 comments Does SIL mean significant other Lover, or live in?


message 24: by Rachel N. (new)

Rachel N. | 1441 comments Amy wrote: "Does SIL mean significant other Lover, or live in?"

SIL means sister in law. I also want to thank Jenni and Marina for sharing their stories. I don't think I'll ever read this book or watch the show.


message 25: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8282 comments Got it! Thanks Rachel. Sometimes I'm surprised at how behind the times I can be.


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