Thirteen Reasons Why, a New York Times Bestseller novel by Jay Asher, focuses on two main characters, Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker, who narrate the story. Clay Jensen comes home from school to find a package addressed to him sitting on the porch. There is no return address on the package, but when he opens it to reveal the contents he finds seven loose audiotapes marked front and back with numbers 1 though 13. He begins listening to the audiotapes and discovers they have been recorded by Hannah Baker, Clay’s former classmate and crush who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there were thirteen reasons why she ended her life. The tapes were initially mailed to one classmate with instructions to pass them from one student to another, in the style of a chain letter. Curiosity and fear of exposure keep the people on the list listening to the tapes and passing them on. We hear the tapes through Clay’s time with them and learn additional information about Hannah and the rumors about her through Clay’s reactions and thoughts about the tapes. If Clay listens through to the end, he will find out how he made the list. The book takes you on an emotional journey filled with the desperation and depression Hannah went through in her short lived life. The tapes include 11 of her fellow students and her guidance counselor who through immature acts of gossip, lies, and ignorance drive her to an emotional detachment from her life eventually resulting in her decision of suicide. The novel makes you think about how a small negative action can take on a snowball-like affect, ruining a reputation, and potentially ending a life.
Being in high school there are always rumors going around, has a rumor about yourself ever gotten back to you? Did you try to disprove the rumor or confront the person you believe started it, or did you just chose to ignore it and move on?
Many of the people on Hannah’s tapes were people she at some point took to be her friends. Have you ever been betrayed by someone you thought of as a friend?
One of Hannah’s tapes involves a boy named Justin who at a party allows a rape to take place in a guest bedroom with his classmate Jessica who, after drinking heavily, passes out unconscious. It is easy to claim you would never allow an act of indecency like this happen, but in a similar situation do you think you would be brave enough to tell the star quarterback with a violent history about what is morally right or wrong? How would you handle this situation?