13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The second book that we have read for our book club is the book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I was very excited to read this book and was so glad that my book club members suggested reading it. I had actually watched the Netflix series a year ago and really enjoyed it as I believe it was very thought-provoking, and I wanted to see how well the book followed the series.
The book follows the story of Clay Jensen who receives a box of cassette tapes and learns that the tapes were made by Hannah Baker, who was a classmate of Clay and had committed suicide. While listening to the tapes, Clay discovers that there are 13 different stories on the tapes about the people that in some way or another were part of the reason why Hannah committed suicide. As you read the book, it’s easy to see how people’s actions can directly or indirectly affect those around them. Clay, who we find as a very likeable character, was actually very much in love with Hannah, but we learn that even he, let her down in the end.
I enjoyed the book as much as I enjoyed the Netflix series. I felt that the series went along fairly closely to the book; the major difference is that the book makes one feel that Clay listened to the 13 tapes in one day, whereas in the series, it takes place over several days. I usually don’t like reading books after I’ve seen the video productions of them, but in this case, it was really nice to have the visual of the characters in mind as I was reading.
Considering the content of this book, I believe that this book would be better suited for high school students verses lower levels. But with that said, I do think that this book does a good job at highlighting what consequences someone’s actions can have on others. I have had discussions with others that feel that Hannah went through what every normal teenager goes through and she just took the easy way out. I do not agree with this. I think that it does show what can happen by the actions of others. I have not had a chance to discuss this book with my book club yet, as we had to postpone last week’s meeting until this coming week. I’m very excited to see what the other members of my club think about this book and whether or not they agree with others I have talked to.
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
My independent book of the week was the verse novel And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard (It is also a Michael L. Printz Award winner). This book tells the story of Emily Beam whose boyfriend, Paul Wagoner, took his life with a stolen gun in the school library in front of Emily. Emily transfers to a boarding school, which also happens to be the same school Emily Dickenson attended, to try to “get away” from the guilt and anger of the shooting. In order to help her deal with what has happened, Emily writes poetry. Her poetry is actually snippets of what happened to facilitate Paul’s suicide and Emily’s emotions about everything that happens. (I’m choosing to leave out the catalyst that caused Paul to do it in order to not spoil it for others). In the end, Emily has to come to grips with the reality of what happened and learn to forgive herself.
This book was written in prose and poetry. I enjoyed the book and liked the way it was a mix of both prose and poetry. Although I enjoyed the way the poetry was used to show Emily’s internal thoughts throughout the book, I do have to say, I didn’t enjoy the poems as much as the prose portion of the book. I found myself as times, skipping some of the poems to just continue on with the story line. Even with doing this, I was able to follow the plot with no difficulty. This book would appeal more to adolescent girls, and it does deal with mature issues. There are some subtle graphic parts in it that would be a concern for some students, therefore I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. If you are looking for a verse book that isn’t completely written in verse, this could be the book for you.