Monday, January 10, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher




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.

Discussion Questions:

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?

15 comments:

Deanna K 5-6 said...

1. Yes, this has happened to me before. Normally, I try and confront the person so they can stop telling it or believing something that isn't true about me.

2. Of course. Everyone has been disappointed by a friend at one point.

3. Yes, I would definitely tell them they were wrong. I would go find help so it wouldn't be just me trying to confront the person.

Kristen T. 11-12 said...

To answer the last question, I feel that in this situation I would stand up to the person acting "immorally." To let something that severe happen and not tell anyone about it would not be something I could live with. If no one stands up for what is right, then more and more of these "immoral" actions will start taking place.

Bojana D 11.12 said...

1. Rumors are constantly circulating, and yes I have heard a rumor about myself before. I used to try and stop them, but now I just give up. People are going to talk no matter what. I don't care what others think of me anymore, so now I just ignore it and move on. I know my real friends will believe me and everyone else can think what they want.

2. Yes, I have and it sucks. But, you have to move on. At the time it was really depressing but now looking back, I'm happy with what happened. I learned a lot from it.

3. I would definatly try and stop the rape. Like Kristen said, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I let something like that just happen.

MaryL11-12 said...

1. I'm pretty sure everyone has had a rumor told about them at one time or another, and some rumors just aren't worth your energy to try and disprove. Sometimes you have to choose your battles; if the rumor is something that would change my life, then yes I would definitely talk to the person starting it. But if it was something stupid that would blow over in a week I would just ignore it.
2. Yeah I think everyone has been betrayed in some way or another by someone they consider to be their friend, whether it was intentional or not though is what makes the difference.
3. If I knew this was going on I would do everything I could to stop the rape, regardless of who was doing it or if they were violent or not. That's screwed up and that Jessica girl would be messed up for the rest of her life.

Sydney C.13-14 said...

I appreciate the input. I think you guys have a valid point in trying to confront the source of the rumor, but also to not take to heart anything that you do find out people are saying about you. I believe this is one of Hannah's downfalls in the story. She cannot find the true confidence in herself to look past all the rumors circulating that she knows aren't true, eventually leading her to believe in the lies herself.

Laura B. 13-14 said...

i agree with Kristen T. on the last question. Personally, I think that I would stand up to that person because to conciously allow someone to commit an act that atrocious and morally incorrect is like not telling a lie but also with holding the truth. In the end, someone always gets hurt. It is always easier to do the wrong thing, but doing the right thing allows a person to mature as a person and establish good morals.

Kara K. 5/6 said...

1)This has happened to me before. I usually confront the person i believe started it. I could never ignore something like that.
2) I have been betrayed many of times by someone I thought of as a friend.
3)I would be scared to tell someone who has a violent history what is right and wrong.

Sydney C.13-14 said...

As for the last discussion question, I do think the act would need to be stopped as well, but I would certainly not be taking on someone with a violent history myself. Because in the story the teens were at a party, there were outlets of other people to help. I think it is important (as a teenage girl myself) to consider your own safety first, and then to asses the situation.

Brad S 11-12 said...

1. Yes, there have been rumors in the past about me, and yes, i have been upset about them. As we age, we also mature, and that comes with the skill of being in control. As we get older, things shouldn't bother us as much. If someone started rumors about me now, i'd just laugh and shrug them off, because i know they're not true, and if other people believe them, then they don't know me and follow every bit of gossip that does not concern them.

Kelsey M. 13-14 said...

3. I don't know if I would be brave enough to stop the situation, I would want to, but I don't know if I could. I think I would have some of my friends come with me to confront him because there can be strength in numbers.

Kaitlyn S. 13-14 said...

1. I've never had a rumor going on about me so I'm thankful for that. If there ever was one, I'd try and set people straight or try to block it out. I don't believe I'd be that successful though.

2. I was only once or twice. One of my friends turned my other friend against me. Ironically they stayed friends even though they talked about each other behind one anothers backs. I just moved on from them knowing that I could find better. I think most people have been betrayed before.

3. I think I would have just called the police at that point because the party would be out of hand by then. I'd probably find something nearby to use as a weapon for protection just in case and then try to confront. That sort of thing should not be tolerated at all even if the person is intoxicated.

Hayley D 11/12 said...

In response to number 3, I agree with Deanna and Kelsey. I know that it would be extremely difficult to stand up to someone when somthing like that is happening but you absolutely have to stop that. Therefore, I would also choose to go grab a few people for support/back up and then go and confront the situation. Something that severe should be taken care of immediately.

Betsy C 1314 said...

To answer the second question, I have been betrayed by someone that i thought was a friend. I was really disappointed that the loyalty i felt to them obviously wasnt returned. I was hurt and and realized that she wasnt really my friend.

Emily C. 13-14 said...

3. I think it would be very difficult to stand up and tell him to stop, but also there is no way i would allow it to happen to someone because that is something horrible and i would not be able to live with myself knowing i let it happen.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

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