Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons WhyTitle: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: October, 2007
Genre/Format: Fiction/Novel
Summary: Hannah Baker committed suicide two weeks ago, so why did Clay Jenkins receive a box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah? Because he is one of 13 reasons why Hannah Baker committed suicide and she is going to tell each of them how they contributed to her death.
What Kellee Thinks: When a book really means something to me, really touches my soul, I have a really hard time writing the review. This book is one of those. I didn't want to stop reading to write down notes or mark favorite parts- I just wanted to keep reading.

This is an important book. One of those books that will be around for a long time. It deals with themes that are constant- bullying, depression, suicide, love. I feel that anyone who reads this book will relate to something. To Hannah's hurt or Clay's love or one of the other characters- in good ways and bad. This book really makes you consider how your actions are truly affecting those around you. Some of Hannah's reasons were not because the person was a bad person. It was because they didn't care or made a bad choice. Little things in our own life may be very large things in other lives. As Hannah says, "No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes we have no clue." So true.

Now, I had heard that some people find Hannah whiny or nit-picking, but I think what happens to her is one of the most realistic translations of isolation in high school that exists in young adult literature. Although one of the 13 reasons may not stand alone as a devastating event (though some do), it is the snowball effect of all of the reasons combining over a short period of time. It is their sum that kills the mean. Those that do not understand are either thinking too much like an adult or had a very easy time in high school, because the experiences that Hannah has are what makes her feel obsolete so they are devastating to her.

Random thoughts-
*I felt bad for Clay. He is such a sweetheart and really didn't deserve to be on the tapes- he is one of the few that tried. But maybe he didn't try hard enough.
*I will NEVER view the phrase "Relax" in the same way after this novel. It creeps me out just thinking about it.
*I think this book would be awesome to listen to as an audio book! I hope they do the dual narratives justice.
What Jen Thinks: Oh, how I love this book! This is a book that is still very vivid in my memory today and that I cannot help raving about whenever anyone talks to me about it. I have to preface my review by saying that I don't know anyone who has attempted or committed suicide personally so I feel like it's hard for me to truly judge the book having never experienced losing anyone to suicide. Nonetheless, I have heard and read stories of suicide and I feel like this book gives a very raw look at how a person might be thinking and feeling when he or she decides to end his or her life. That's not to say that every person would think or feel this way.
For me, this book gave me perspective into how little interactions or non-interactions with people can add up and slowly start to take a toll on a person. Hannah's thirteen reasons weren't the only reasons for committing suicide, but they were big reasons. Can she blame only others? Could she have possibly changed how she was being treated in some of the situations? I think a lot of things could have gone differently for Hannah and I also believe that a person has to have some kind of imbalance biologically or chemically to feel so intensely that suicide is an option and then to go through with it. I think that's what makes this book such a strong book because it does chronicle only one girl's life. There are so many what if's and buts that can be thrown at it but it doesn't matter because true life is true life and most of the time stories of true life don't always make sense.

It was heartbreaking for me to read this book already knowing the outcome of the story. There were times when I was hoping for her get help or for someone to intervene...but in the back of my head I knew it could never happen. By the end, I definitely was thinking about my daily interactions with others but especially my students. It's important already to treat others with respect and kindness but I think it's easy to forget that one little incident might seem trivial to you but could seem monumental to someone else. The long-lasting impact this book has had on me is a testament to the strength of its message.
Read Together: Grades 7 - 12
Read Alone: Grades 7 - 12
Read With: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Hate List by Jennifer Brown, Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser, Paper Towns by John Green, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Snatch of Text: "Or maybe I will. I'm not actually sure how this whole dead thing works. Who knows, maybe I'm standing behind you right now.
I lean forward, propping my elbows on the workbench. I let my face fall into my hands and I slide my fingers back into unexpectedly damp hair.

I'm sorry. That wasn't fair." (pg. 12)

"The cold air isn't the only reason I'm shivering anymore. With every side of every tape, an old memory gets turned upside down. A reputation twists into someone I don't recognize." (p. 133)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Making connections, Cause/effect, Asking questions
Writing Strategies to Practice: Poetry, Reflection, Characterization, Dual narratives, Perspective
Writing Prompts: Write about a time when someone did something that hurt you, but they didn't know it.
Topics Covered: Integration- Guidance, Death, Suicide, Bullies, Loneliness, Blame, Rumors
Translated to Spanish: No

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