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Thirteen Reasons Why
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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher June 2017 group read

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Jennifer W | 2175 comments Welcome to our group read of Thirteen Reasons Why.

Here's our reading schedule:

June 16th read intro pages and cassettes 1 and 2 both sides
June 23 read casettes 3 and 4 both sides
June 30 read cassettes 5 and 6 both sides
July 7 finish the book

If you can get your hands on an audio book of this, I highly recommend it, it's so powerful.

Who's in?

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Being that I work in mental health, I would be remiss if I didn't let you all know that if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there is help! Call the national lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text the national text line 741741.

If you want to help, look for local trainings in suicide prevention. You don't have to be a counselor to save a life- learn the signs and the resources available in your area.

message 3: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (last edited Jun 06, 2017 09:08PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I'm in, though I have a hardback copy, not the audiobook. :-)

You confused me for a second with you "cassettes" reading schedule, but I now see that is how the chapters are listed!

Thank you for shaing the suicide hotline number too!

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I'm on hold for the audio book, so I'll start with the print version for now.

It was confusing for me to write that you need to "read a cassette"! :)

Irene | 4035 comments I am planning to participate, although I am a bit apprehensive because I generally dislike young adult books. I will try to keep an open mind.

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Great to have you, Irene. I hope this book defies expectations!

message 7: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I picked this one last night to get a head start, and I can see why it is popular. Easy to read, yet it pulled me right into the story. Interested to see where this goes.

message 8: by Petra (new)

Petra I plan on joining in soon. I'm currently 2nd in the queue at the library.
I'll be getting the audio version; the print version's queue was about triple in length. I'm looking forward to this.
I'll join in when I can.

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Welcome Petra. I hope you like the audio book, I found it to be amazing!

Jennifer W | 2175 comments As we get started on the reading, what are your experiences with suicide? Most of us know someone who has died by suicide. What words come to mind when you think about suicide, especially teen suicide?

Jennifer W | 2175 comments As you read the first section, do you find Clay and Hannah realistic teenagers? What are your reactions to them? Do you like them? Are you able to follow the story written this way of jumping back and forth between Hannah's recordings and Clay's response to them? Why is Clay putting himself through the pain of listening to the tapes?

message 12: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I have actually been very lucky in that nobody close to me has ever committed suicide. Of course there have been people in schools I went to, people in towns that I lived in, but nobody personally close to me. When I think of teen suicide I think of depression, bullying, someone feeling like an outsider, feeling like they are all alone.

message 13: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Howland | 11 comments I am not reading this book, but my grandson took his own life just before he was 16. He had had an encounter with the police and it is my thinking that perhaps he was mistreated because of his race. Also I think the police described such a bleak future for him, if found guilty of his alleged crime, he could not face it. This is how this grandma has been able to find a little peace with it. Miss him terribly.

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I'm so sorry, Cheryl. I know there are no words to make sense of your loss. Do take care of yourself.

message 15: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Cheryl, I am so sorry for your loss! What a heart breaking tragedy.

message 16: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments Cheryl, my heart goes out to you. Virtual hugs.

message 17: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Howland | 11 comments Thank all y'all for your comments. I can't believe it's been ten years. My husband and I talk of this from time to time and I can't imagine the pain my daughter experiences. But we all trust in God and that's the best we can do for now. Someday we may know more.

message 18: by Jennifer (new) - added it

Jennifer | 229 comments I have had this book on my kindle for some time. I decided to start reading it to keep up with the discussion.

My mother committed suicide when I was 10 years old. I do not know that it is something you ever come to terms with. That happened 24 years ago and it still defines so much of who I am, especially as a mother. I have a very hard time being sympathetic or empathetic. This book so far has been a struggle.

In regards to the characters it seems strange to me that Hannah hasn't found one good friend. Someone she could talk to, or really share about this encounters she's having. It seems every time she decides to open up its with the wrong person. She didn't start out as a loner or depressed. The book also keeps mentioning rumors from her old town. I wonder what happened there. I keep wanting to shake her and say this isn't all there is to life, there is a whole big world filled with amazing people, why give up so easily?!

I do like Clay and I hope he doesn't get destroyed when it's his turn on the tapes.

message 19: by Jennifer W (last edited Jun 23, 2017 08:29PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Again, there are no words for your loss, Jennifer. Do take care of yourself and don't push yourself if reading this book is too hard for you.

Jennifer W | 2175 comments How are others finding the book? Is it difficult to read and get to know Hannah, knowing that she has taken her own life? Are you developing empathy for her? Some have found her whiney. What do you think about her first 2 tapes? Are these horrible people? What else could Hannah done in those circumstances?

I don't know if I noticed this the first time I read the book, but where are the adults?

message 21: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments Jennifer, Virtual hugs. I can't imagine the pain of such a profound childhood trauma.

message 22: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I am not understanding Hannah yet. I want to hug her, but the events she is describing also don't seem worth killing yourself over. I have a feeling things will build though as we go on.

Good question though, Jennifer. Where are the adults?

Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4844 comments I have been following the discussion. I haven't read the book yet. I can speak from being bullied. If Hannah had told an adult, would that adult have helped her? I told my teachers constantly that I was being picked on and they didn't do anything to stop it. They even witnessed some of the bullying. They just told the kid who was picking on me to stop but the situation didn't stop.

message 24: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments I have read through the first 3 tapes. I am not finding Hannah;s or Clay's voices credible as a teen. Hannah is really bothering me. She is so calm and collected as she records this suicide note. This obviously took her days and days, plenty of time to rethink her death plans. And, it is so clear about the unseen consequences of casual, thoughtless acts. But, then she turns around and commits suicide without realizing the terrible ramifications it would have on her family? This is a major disconnect. No where in these first 3 tapes does she sound emotionally devastated. She is calm and analytical, not the frame of mind I expect for someone planning on ending her life. Rather than someone so broken by these interactions that life is not worth living, I am hearing someone bent on teaching these kids a good lesson. But a person does not commit suicide to teach others a lesson about respect and thoughtfulness.

I also don't get the map thing. What is the point of standing outside of these places where Hanna had some negative adolescent interaction?

If something horrible does not happen soon, I am going to be very critical of this plot line. Kids look to others to make sense of their experiences. Lots and lots of teens have similar experiences, dates who have been too physically aggressive, the object of a nasty note, the victim of a rumor. They need voices that help them put it in perspective, assure them that in a month no one will remember it or teach them how to handle things so that they are not hurt in the future. They certainly do not need voices telling them that such situations are so awful that suicide is a viable option. So far, what I have read on these 3 tapes is not bullying in my opinion. If things continue in this vain for the rest of the book, I would pay to change places between Hannah and my teenage self.

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I wonder about Hannah's parents. She mentions bad (or at least unpleasant) things happening in her last school, and she just moved. It would seem like she would have a close relationship with her parents.

Also, what about the clerk at the store? Why didn't he react? It's become a "thing" lately for adults to call out misbehaving kids/teens (and then post it on facebook), but I can tell you that the adults around me had no problem telling me when I was stepping out of line!

Irene, I think the points you make are why I've heard people say Hannah is whiney. It does get worse for her, though!

Jennifer W | 2175 comments How about Clay? What do you think his role in this will be?

Is there a sense that the school has taken an appropriate response to Hannah's death?

message 27: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments I think it is odd that 13 teens have access to a cassette player I am also surprised that this box of tapes can make it around 13 teens without people talking all about it by the third person.

This is a terrible thing to say, but I am glad to read that it will get worse for Hannah. That at least might give some context for suicide. But, if she is so distraught, how come she sounds so calm on the tapes? If anything, she is coming off as angry, not deeply sad. Anger in this situation is the better emotion because it directs the person outward; the person wants to harm the source of the wrong, while sadness moves us inward and makes us more likely to connect the problem with who we are leading to a desire to cease existing.

message 28: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I have to say I agree with Irene, in that Hannah doesn't sound like someone who is depressed and suicidal, she sounds like someone who is angry and wanting to get revenge on all these people who she says have "wronged" her.

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I don't have the book in front of me, but I was reading the tape (3 or 4, so this week's reading) last night where she decides she will end her life. She speaks about how no one will give her a chance, nothing she does makes any difference, every time she tries something, it blows up in her face. From previous trainings around suicide, the 2 key emotions for people thinking about it are hopelessness and helplessness. I see a lot of both in Hannah. I'm not saying it should be there, *we* know that things get better, but she is a somewhat isolated teen girl, I can see how she feels things are spiraling into a black hole.

Irene, I don't think it's so bad to want more from this book, it's fiction! :) Fiction is allowed (encouraged, even) to torture the characters! And I feel like I read someplace why the author went with cassette tapes, I'll have to see if I can find it.

message 30: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments I know that Hannah says that she feels as if things are spinning out of control, but I do not believe that it parallels what she is narrating. It is as if the author had a list of suicide signs and slipped them in so he could check them off. She sounds very much in control as she narrates things.

message 31: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments I finished it because I did not want it hanging over my head. When others finish, I need a time frame clarified.

Jennifer W | 2175 comments We've read a couple more tapes. What did you think about the classroom conversation on suicide? I found it interesting that the students wanted more of a background for that subject, but not others. Does that seem plausible? What about the teacher's response?

How about Clay's interaction with his mother at the restaurant? Is she doing the right thing by letting him work through this himself? For those of you who are parents, would you let your kid off the hook that way?

message 33: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I was surpised that Clay's mom doesn't have more interest in what he is doing, what her is listening to, what is bothering him, etc., since it seemed he realized that she knew he wasn't there with a friend. Clueless parent?

The part about the students wanting more background for the conversation of suicide didn't seem realistic. I would think that the teacher could have done a better jon with this discussion too.

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I didn't think the classroom conversation was all that realistic, either. Especially if they have talked about sex and abortions, teenagers are going to want all the juicy details! Now, it could be that the author wrote it poorly, or it could be Hannah's perceptions are off kilter, due her depression and emotions. Also, it seems a school counselor would be grilling the students to figure out who wrote the note. Someone could get sued!

I get the sense that Clay's mom doesn't want to be nosy, but you'd think after a classmate had died by suicide, she'd be more protective.

message 35: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments I had the same problem with Clay's mother. She even goes as far as to find him at the diner, but then does so little to follow up with him.

I am not sure how far everyone is in the story since I finished the entire book. Have you reached the sceen with the paper bags in the classroom? If not, I won't say anything more other than I was surprised that Hannah did not say anything to that teacher who seemed so loved and respected by all the kids.

Jennifer W | 2175 comments We have, Irene. Hannah screams at the boy, Zach, but doesn't do anything else.

message 37: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments Good, did not want to give away a spoiler. So, why doesn't she go to the teacher. We were told that all the kids respected that teacher to the extent that no one ever put an insulting or mean note in the bag. If she was so approachable and respected, why not say something to the teacher about Zach taking her notes out of the bag?

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Good question. I don't know.

message 39: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Good question, Irene.

Also, Jennifer, I agree with you that it seems Clay's mom should have been more attentive and protective given the recent suicide of one of his classmates.

Is this book just trying to shove down the throat of the reader that parents and teachers are clueless to the thoughts and emotions of teens? Is this a good message to be pushing to the teen audience that is probably heavily reading this book?

message 40: by Jennifer (new) - added it

Jennifer | 229 comments To speak to your last question Shelia, I'm not sure what message this author was trying to give teens. It would be interesting to know his thought process on why he needed to write this book. I read the kindle version and this line from the story was highlighted 2,131 times: "This time, for the first time, I saw the possibilities in giving up. I even found hope in it." I saw that and just felt sad. I know depression is terrible and rampant but how does this book help?

message 41: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments I thought the point of the book was to tell teens that their seemingly inconsequential actions might be so consequential in another's life that it could prompt or prevent suicide. The tapes chronicled all these little things that built up until Hannah no longer felt as if she wanted to live. Others on the tape did not respond with sufficient concern when she tried to reach out. That is Clay's piece in the story. So, I thought the point was to guilt the teen reader into being kinder because you never know. The final scene reinforced this message.

Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4844 comments If the teen is guilted into being kinder, I don't think that sends the right message. I think it is to bring more of an awareness and be kinder to everyone.

message 43: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Jennifer, I find it sadly horrifying that the quote you mention has been highlighted by 2,131 readers on kindle! That is the line that is resonating with readers (most likely teen and young adult readers)?!?

message 44: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments It does not surprise me that Jennifer's line was highlighted over 2,000 times if the primary reader is an adolescent. Many adolescents feel as if they are misunderstood by everyone, completely alone in their anxt and sadness, at least for some period during those years. Some of it is due to the unfamiliar raging hormones that are playing havoc with their emotions. Part of it is their lack of life experience that prevents them from recognizing the universality of moments of general depression and the tendency to be more self absorbed during those years. Most people I know considered the possibility of suicide at some point in their adolescents, often in the romanticized view that it would finally get them the understanding, appreciation, attention they craved. I think this book plays into that view and could validate this as an option for those teens. I also suspect that those youth most likely to pick up this type of book are those who are in a frame of mind most similar to Hannah, not a Clay or Zach.

message 45: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Yes, Irene, this is what worries me about this book, that readers of it could be Hannahs, who could find hope in the possibility of giving up, and who could think that the way to fix things, to get back at those who had hurt you, and to make the world a better place would be to kill yourself and tell those who hurt you why you did it to try to change them.

message 46: by Jennifer (new) - added it

Jennifer | 229 comments I do not like the tapes because it feels like revenge. Hannah is going to have her last word and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Now that I have finished the book, I started the show on Netflix. The way the writers interpreted the show, very few of the characters are feeling remorseful or appear to be considering future actions.

message 47: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments Can we discuss the ending? Are others through the book?

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I'll finish it this weekend. If others are done, though, feel free to discuss the whole book!

message 49: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene | 4035 comments I'll wait until I hear that everyone is finished.

message 50: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I have finished, so am ready when everyone else is.

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