February Online Teen Book Title: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
This title is our February book club selection. Look for copies of this title in our Teen Fiction Collection. This title is also available as one of our Book Club Kits.
Read the book and respond to any of the questions posed below. Submit your responses and any additional disucssion questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check back often and follow BTPL_Teens on Twitter to join in our online discussions.
When Clay Jenkins receives a box containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends the night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death. This title is recommended for grades 9 and up.
Genre: Suicide, Relationships
2008 Best Books for Young Adults, YALSA
2009 International Reading Association Young Adults’ Choice List
5 Copies of Thirteen Reasons Why
1 Audio Book copy of Thirteen Reasons Why* (5 CDs)
1 Copy of Teen Suicide (Teen Mental Health) by Lorena Huddle and Jay Schleifer
1 Discussion Guide Folder: This discussion guide contains discussion questions, activities and other information to foster discussion of this book. You will also find information on starting and running a book club, earning a reading scout badge, and other information. You may make copies of any of these materials. Please do not write on these materials and return all pages, books, and contents of this kit.
If you liked Thirteen Reasons Why, you might like these books:
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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
TEEN FICTION AND
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
TEEN FICTION BRO
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
TEEN FICTION COH
You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn
TEEN FICTION CRU
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
TEEN FICTION FOR
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
TEEN FICTION GRE
Looking for Alaska by John Green
TEEN FICTION KNO
Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles
Just think about and respond thoughtfully. Please share your own group’s discussion questions and comments by emailing email@example.com. Be sure to check the Library’s teen pages at www.btpl.org for additional questions and comments from other book groups.
*Many of these questions were taken from the Razerbill/Penguin Young Readers Group discussion guide, the publishers of Mr. Asher’s book. Others were submitted by BTPL teen patrons.
Did you enjoy this book? What expectations did you have prior to reading it? Did it meet those expectations? Would you recommend it to a friend? Why or why not?
How does Hannah and Clay’s dual narrative enhance the story? What additional details are revealed through this method of storytelling that might have otherwise remained secret if the book had been written from only one of their perspectives? How might the story have changed if the book had been written from one of the other people’s perspectives instead of Clay’s? For example, Tony’s?
Consider the title of the novel. Are each of Hannah’s thirteen reasons of equal importance? Which do you find to be the most unexpected? Who is responsible for Hannah’s death? Why do you think Hannah committed suicide? The inside of the book jacket for Thirteen Reasons Why pictures a replica of the map that Hannah leaves for each of the people named on her tapes. What does being able to visually trace Clay’s route through town add to your reading experience?
Discuss the role that the presence of Hannah’s voice plays as a physical presence on the tapes. Is the impact the tapes have different from the impression a suicide note would have left? Why do you think she recorded and left the tapes? If her story had been recorded on CDs or MP3 files would the effect have been different?
At the beginning of the first tape, Hannah says, “. . . there are thirteen sides to every story.” What does she mean by this? Are there sides to her own story that Hannah doesn’t know? Do you think she would have made different decisions if she had had the chance to listen to each of the other thirteen sides?
Hannah references rumors that she hoped to get away from when her family moved. What do you imagine she meant? Define the word “rumor.” What comment does this story make about rumors in general? Discuss how rumors and truth can be connected. Is one more powerful than the other? Can rumors be positive? Does Hannah’s story change your original point of view on this subject?
Hannah also says, “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.” Discuss the concept of individual perception and how it contributes to how Hannah’s story plays out. What do you think she means by “pushing it”? Further on, Hannah says, “. . . I’m sure you must have thought, This can’t be why I’m on the tapes.
Mr. Porter tells Hannah that besides filing charges with the police, she has two options for dealing with what happened at the afterparty. He tells her she can confront the other person or move on. Do you agree that these are her only options? What do you think Clay was hoping Mr. Porter would say to Hannah?
Reflect on Hannah and Clay’s last words to each other in the hallway at school. Discuss their greater meaning within the context of the story. Compare and contrast their last words to the other times in the novel when these same words are uttered under different circumstances. How is it relevant that Clay hears Skye utter these words?
Discuss Skye’s role in the story. Compare and contrast her to Hannah. What do you think Clay says to Skye when he catches up with her in the hallway?
Why do you think the author ended the story the way he did? How do you think Clay is changed by listening to Hannah’s tapes? Do you think the tapes had similar effects on the other listeners? Do you think they all followed Hannah’s instructions in the same manner that Clay did?
Could anything have saved Hannah? If one link in this chain of events had been different, which one do you think would have made the most difference for Hannah? How would a change in that specific event have impacted the remaining portion of the other thirteen reasons that followed?
What will you remember from reading this novel?
Some book reviewers and journalists have criticized young adult authors including Mr. Asher for writing books with depressing, morose themes. Did you find this book depressing? Do you think young adult literature is in general too depressing?