RAM Readers Spring 2020 discussion

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
New Rule: Do not watch this on Netflix! You must read this book!


message 2: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments • Before reading the book, I was confused about the title. Thirteen reasons why for what? Then, I found out immediately when I opened the first page. Thirteen reasons why Hannah Baker killed herself. After reading this book, I wish it would be thirteen reasons why Hannah Baker gave up suiciding. I like this amazingly great story because the unusual format of writing and the meaningful themes of the content. The shoebox of cassettes and the back and forth narrations are connecting the beginning to the end. High school is the background setting of the story, which makes me look back and reflect on something happed in my high school days.

• A snowball effect, just like Hannah mentions in her tapes, one thing on top of another can really destroy one’s hope to keep moving on. When you go through every individual story, more or less, you had experienced or observed in your life. It does not seem like a huge problem, but nobody knows what is actually going on in people’s minds. “No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same” (P. 170). However, everything matters in the end! Thus, it is very important to be aware of how we treat others. Let me just provide a simple example, people leave ugly, rude, and irresponsible comments online. I do not like it at all. We should have mutual respect to each other. I swear to God, I did not write any improper comments under a video per se. Of course, there are some videos I do not like. Then I just turn it off and respect the owner’s time and effort. Maybe not everyone agrees with me, but that is how I react. I believe everyone can be kind!

• I want to talk about this heartbreakingly beautiful story a bit more. It is pretty straightforward, no turning back, no miracle, nothing can bring Hannah’s life back. It was not only one person’s fault. It had been a snowball effect, which continued to build on. Clay was confused when he was on the list. When he found out all the truth behind everything, he was crying. Justin made some rumors about Hannah; Alex came up with a stupid list; Jessica misunderstood her, Tyler stalking and peeking at her; Courtney was such a people user; Marcus was a cold-blooded person and did not feel like helping; Zach took hopes out from her; Ryan was cruel stealing and making fun of her poem; Clay said he should have done something, but it was too late; Bryce raped Jessica; Jenny hit a stop sign and caused the death of an old man; and Mr. Porter did not give the help Hannah was searching for. To sum up, we cannot rewrite the past, we have to know what we do affects others. If I use this novel in my literature class, I will let the students learn how to reflect on themselves and make some changes for the future. Blaming is not the thing we want to do!


message 3: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments This is not my type of novel, and the subject is not one of my favorites. The author chooses to display this story in a completely different way; A suicide note was left, but not in the way anyone would have expected it. Thirteen stories were recorded onto tapes by Hannah Baker, a teenage girl who committed suicide. These stories were about a person who had something to do with her death. Each one should listen to the stories and pass them on to the next person on the tapes.
Even though I did not enjoy the reading, I recognize that it is a relevant topic to make people aware of the importance of treating others. An inconsequent act can severely affect somebody´s life. This is a good message to make adolescents aware, how their actions and behaviors can influence others.
I feel sorry to see how bullying can badly affect a person. As a freshman at a new school, Hannah suffered all different kinds of bullying, and even Mr. Porter, an English teacher and a Counselor at school, did nothing to help her when she went to him with her feelings of depression and isolation (p.286-293). This is a good lesson for readers to learn! We must care about others and pay attention to their signs of unhappiness. Life is about people, and we should care and help one another. It is very sad when Clay Jansen regrets that he should tell Hannah how much he liked her. By the end of the tapes, he feels changed, and the novel ends with him addressing a student named Skye, who he sees behaving like Hannah. Clay´s action might prevent another suicide.


message 4: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Again, this was another frustrating novel for me to read. Unfortunately, it is very timely, and, quite often, a reflection of what goes on in our schools on a daily basis.
I know I always say this in my comments, but it's difficult reading these novels from an adult's perspective. As I was reading, I grew frustrated at the way some of the characters acted. One word popped into my mind over and over again: apathy. Most of these characters in the novel were so apathetic towards not just Hannah, but also their own dealings in life. The cruelty and insensitivity of some of the teens is, unfortunately, not too far from the reality of how some teens act. I work with teens, so I've seen first-hand how some can be kind and helpful, but I've also seen many be completely unaware of how their actions affect others. It's almost like they have no awareness of anyone's feelings but their own. It can be scary.
I also felt so many people failed Hannah, and allowed her to fall through the cracks. I'm not an expert on suicide, but I imagine that most people who commit suicide tried to seek help, but were overlooked. Clay and Mr. Porter didn't do enough to truly help Hannah, and hindsight can be brutal.
Most teens are familiar with this story because of the Netflix series, so I wonder how they would do with actually reading the novel. Suicide is a very touchy subject to try and tackle in the classroom because, as a teacher, one would have to be prepared to hear stories or confessions from their students. I actually think this would be a better novel for teachers and adults to read, so that we can be prepared to acknowledge the warning signs, and intervene.


message 5: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Now it is my third time in touch with Thirteen Reasons Why. My first time I read the book in Portuguese, the second time I watched on Netflix and now in English. If I could, I will talk about this book for 5/6 hours with no stop.
My last year teaching to a high school students were in 2013, where two critical facts to adolescents happened: The challenge of Blue Whale ( where students were challenged to hurt himself and sometimes suicide) and the book of Thirteen Reasons Why.
At the beginning of the school year, one of our students at Public school hanged up himself in the school bathroom; nobody knows Why but rumors tell about the Blue Whale game!
The school was closed for one week to the recovery of the fact. After a teaching meeting, we decided to bring all topics and discuss ALOUD with EVERYONE: Sex, Drugs, Suicide, Bullying. We brought doctors, psychologists, health department, Parents that were involved with drug dealers to speak with our students. Even though, we had no support from the education department to keep doing those activities. As a teacher, we should not forget this topic, and my responsibility was talking about the Thirteen Reasons Why: How Can I help Hannah Baker?
I can say to everyone that I felt all the feelings and emotions of Hannah and my students. Sometimes, I cried a lot and tried to give up because it is not easy to hear about their problems and do not anything. I worked with the principal of the school Valeria ( I will never forget this woman), and we spent some nights crying together. We knew we should encourage ourselves to encourage the students later.
In the final of the school year, the school made a documentary about this critical moment. We won a prize from a non-profit that supports parents of suicided children.
I know for sure, my students are better people after this project. One of my students is my psychologist ( Danilo), that is specialized in treating trauma in children. Every time that I talked with someone, they described how vital was the school to deal with them about the traumatic experience, and how they heal.
And, that moment closed my carrier as a high school teacher. I am so proud of myself to don't give up with my students because almost 40% of the teachers left the school, probably they were afraid of this moment.


message 6: by Diana (last edited Apr 02, 2020 08:24AM) (new)

Diana | 31 comments Before reading the novel, the only things I knew were it was a show on Netflix and it was a banned novel for schools because it "glamorized" suicide. However, I don't believe the book glamorized suicide. In my perspective, the novel shows how we are all connected. Everyone in Hannah's life played a role in her life whether it was good or bad. Like Hannah said, "It was a snowball effect of things that lead her to that point." Numerous things Hannah mentions that happen at her school did in fact happened in my high school. For example; the list of not or hot, friendships tested, shy kid, high school jobs, the jerk of the school, and a suicide. For me, this novel was addicting because I needed to know where Clay played a role in Hannah's life. As I was reading the novel I could picture the town, school, and box of tapes. This novel makes me think twice about my actions.
My favorite part of the novel was the ending, how Clay goes after Skye to attempt a conversation, again. By Clay's action, he is acknowledging Skye. This novel is a great example of acknowledging depression and changes that people go through. A small act of kindness can go a long way.
After reading the novel I read the praises that readers wrote to the author that was included in my book and they are amazing. Readers thank J.Asher for saving their life, they learn to speak up for themselves, reached out to a person in need, and knew that they were not alone. To me, a novel that is banned because of glorifying suicide but ends up saving lives is a novel that NEEDS to be read.
Now I am tempted to watch the Netflix series if anyone has seen it please let me know if it is worth watching it.


message 7: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Thirteen Reasons Why

As I began to read this novel, I had a rather difficult time trying to remove my previous thoughts. I first read the book when I was in high school, re-read before watching the series, and then watched the Netflix series. I tried my best.

The novel discusses the people and the reasons behind young Hannah Baker's suicide through some recorded cassette tapes. The snowball effect leads to this horrific event. The actions of many people in Hannah's life lead her to her decision, yet they were were unaware of how their actions impacted her life. The tapes reveal it in the end. I think it would be a good discussion to have with students. I believe in treating people kindly, but this is more than that. You have to stop and think about how your actions affect other people. I think that can be difficult for teenagers at times. Especially in high school where the whole world seems to revolve around them. Although, a difficult topic to read and talk about, a worthy one to discuss.

I think that there is a certain way of approach topics that this. The way that the novel goes through characters that played a role in Hannah's decision, it is important not to only focus on blaming people after events like this. It is more important to help people understand how to notice signs or changes in people's behavior who might be dealing with difficult situations and offer ways to seek help.


message 8: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Diana wrote: "Before reading the novel, the only things I knew were it was a show on Netflix and it was a banned novel for schools because it "glamorized" suicide. However, I don't believe the book glamorized su..."

Hi Diana,
My favorite part is also the end of the novel. I agree with you that when Clay goes after Skye to try a conversation, it shows that he reflected on his attitude toward Hannah and tries to change his behavior. I conclude that It is not late to review the way we see and treat people, and try to help them, making a difference in their lives.


message 9: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Isaiah wrote: "My initial reaction to reading Thirteen Reasons after reading this novel was a state of shock. This book was an easy read because I like to read suspenseful novels, however after finding out the ti..."

Isaiah: You make a good point that educators need to be trained on the red flags of suicide. I've been out of the classroom for quite some time, but I would hope that, by now, districts are holding professional development training on not just academics, but also mental health awareness. I was very fortunate to take a training in Adolescent Mental Health First Aid, which was eye-opening, and taught me valuable information on how to spot the signs of suicide.


message 10: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Bruna wrote: "Now it is my third time in touch with Thirteen Reasons Why. My first time I read the book in Portuguese, the second time I watched on Netflix and now in English. If I could, I will talk about this ..."

Hi Bruna,

Wow, I could not imagine how difficult that must have been. I think your school and all the teachers did a phenomenal job. It is essential to discuss these complicated topics with our students, but I'm sure you know exactly why. I commend you and all your colleagues.


message 11: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Diana wrote: "Before reading the novel, the only things I knew were it was a show on Netflix and it was a banned novel for schools because it "glamorized" suicide. However, I don't believe the book glamorized su..."

Diana: I watched the Netflix version when it first came out, and I remember the subsequent negative press it received because--like you mentioned--people believed it 'glamorized' suicide. I'll admit, as I watched it, I thought the same thing. On the screen, the characters are made real (beautiful faces, cool clothes, parties), surrounded by a hip soundtrack, and witty dialogue. Seeing these characters kind of "Hollywood"-upped the tragic topic of suicide.


message 12: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Thirteen reasons why? By Jay Asher
Before reading this novel, i thought this is a story about a lazy teenager who always find out reasons to defend himself. But i was wrong! That‘s why it was No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list in July 2011 and became the basis of the dramatic television series 13 Reasons Why released through Netflix on March 31, 2017.
Thirteen reasons why Hannah Baker killed herself. From a beautiful, nice, intelligent and independent girl, Hannah became depression, quiet and coward. Reading the story, i can feel what Hannah receive from her family, her friends, her teachers.
This novel show out the dark side of teenagers’s life, what they must to face. It can be violent, sexual...but all of them that is the silence, thoughtlessness of family, friends and teachers. How many times she gave them sign and how many people answer her?
The novel give us a sign: teenagers needs our love, they need to share their idea, they need our care, they have to face with many problem. We should listen to them, understand them and project them!
It remind me the time when i was teenager, my parents never let me go out too late, i must be at 9 pm. They didn’t want to have relationship with boys. They always told me “ you should do this, you shouldn’t do that!!! At that time, i always thought why they were so mean, they were rigid. And later i knew that they want protect me!


message 13: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Bruna wrote: "Now it is my third time in touch with Thirteen Reasons Why. My first time I read the book in Portuguese, the second time I watched on Netflix and now in English. If I could, I will talk about this ..."

Hey Bruna,

I'm so proud of you for being such a brave and supportive teacher back home. And thank you for sharing your own experience with us in dealing with a critical period of time in school. You mentioned that you brought up some sensitive topics like bullying, sex and suicide into classroom. I personally think that's a great idea because we cannot just avoid talking about them when all different kinds of sad stories happening every day.

Yao Chen


message 14: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Jackie wrote: "Thirteen Reasons Why

As I began to read this novel, I had a rather difficult time trying to remove my previous thoughts. I first read the book when I was in high school, re-read before watching t..."


Hey Jackie,

I totally agree what you have said. My post shared a lot of similar ideas as yours like we both reflected on the snowball effect, kindness and, more importantly, instead of blaming, we should put more focus on how to understand yourself and others. I think this is vital because we want to guide our youngsters to be a better vision of themselves rather than shutting down to "the dangerous world".

Yao Chen


message 15: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments Natalie wrote: "Diana wrote: "Before reading the novel, the only things I knew were it was a show on Netflix and it was a banned novel for schools because it "glamorized" suicide. However, I don't believe the book..."

Thank you for answering my question. I did read some reviews of the show, and right away I could tell who read the novel versus the people that just watched the series. Readers said that just the exact thing you had said, "Hollywood paint suicide as a glorified solution to a problem." However, the series gave more intel about the characters that play a role in Hannah's life. Maybe I'll watch it.


message 16: by Diana (last edited Apr 02, 2020 09:42AM) (new)

Diana | 31 comments Isaiah wrote: "My initial reaction to reading Thirteen Reasons after reading this novel was a state of shock. This book was an easy read because I like to read suspenseful novels, however, after finding out the ti..."

I too was frustrated at Mr.Porter for telling Hannah to get over it but before he told her that, I believe that Hannah already walked into the office with a set mind of suicide. As educators, we should know our students and noticed the signs however I do not think it is fair for Hannah to put the blame on Mr.Porter. Where were her parents? I understand most parents have lives too (running a shoe store) but how can a parent not notice their own daughter's haircut?! And most kids shot their parents down when they ask questions but when you become a parent, you gain a spidey sense that something is off/ different/ wrong about your child. Know your child.
Another part of me is upset with Hannah. Like how dare you blame other people for your actions. I understand things were not going your way, so your solution was to end your life? Just like the snowball effect ended Hannahs life, did she REALLY think about the aftermath of her actions? She preaches about how students in her school are selfish but she did the most selfish thing of all, she ends her life.
This question goes out to everyone: How was possible to help Hannah when she claims it was too late?


message 17: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Jackie wrote: "Thirteen Reasons Why

As I began to read this novel, I had a rather difficult time trying to remove my previous thoughts. I first read the book when I was in high school, re-read before watching t..."


Hi Jackie,

Yes, I agree with you that the focus should not be on blaming others for what happened, yet to make people aware of how serious suicide is, and they should recognize its signs in order to help the person to go over their difficulties. I can tell that in the crazy way this world is, most people do not really see who is next to them. It's time to change!


message 18: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments ThaoTam wrote: "Thirteen reasons why? By Jay Asher
Before reading this novel, i thought this is a story about a lazy teenager who always find out reasons to defend himself. But i was wrong! That‘s why it was No. 1..."


Hi Thao, my parents did the same with me. I should be at home at 9 pm, and all my friends were playing until 11 pm. I felt so depressed because they didn't allow me to play until night nut later I also understand their attitude.


message 19: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Isaiah wrote: "Natalie wrote: "Again, this was another frustrating novel for me to read. Unfortunately, it is very timely, and, quite often, a reflection of what goes on in our schools on a daily basis.
I know I..."


Hi Isaiah, I wish the same ... when this pandemic situation finishes we can meet again and discuss our finds... Also, it is very relaxing to read all my classmates' opinions about books and their experiences.


message 20: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Thank you, everybody, for sharing your ideas about the books but also, your personal experiences. It is good to know a little be about yourselves.


message 21: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Bruna wrote: "ThaoTam wrote: "Thirteen reasons why? By Jay Asher
Before reading this novel, i thought this is a story about a lazy teenager who always find out reasons to defend himself. But i was wrong! That‘s ..."


Hi Bruna!
We might have the same feeling at that time! but nowadays, parents take too much time for working and the social relationship and they forget their children, especially in the city. Many adolescents have problem with trauma and they can't talk to anyone. because no one listens to them!


message 22: by ThaoTam (last edited Apr 08, 2020 03:26PM) (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Jackie wrote: "Thirteen Reasons Why

As I began to read this novel, I had a rather difficult time trying to remove my previous thoughts. I first read the book when I was in high school, re-read before watching t..."


Hi Jackie!
Thanks for your sharing and I like your opinion "It is more important to help people understand how to notice signs or changes in people's behavior who might be dealing with difficult situations and offer ways to seek help". The story also a bell call every one should wake up and look at the people in our life, and think about the relationship that we have together. and we should pay more attention on adolescents, who need to be listen and listen


message 23: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Diana wrote: "Before reading the novel, the only things I knew were it was a show on Netflix and it was a banned novel for schools because it "glamorized" suicide. However, I don't believe the book glamorized su..."

Hi Diana,

I feel that hindsight is always 20/20, so of course, Mr. Porter could have done more to try to help Hannah, but I completely agree with you. Hannah walked into his office with her mind made up. I think that she had already made her decision. As we read more banned books, I believe that although they might have been placed on these lists, there is still much to learn from them.


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