Quote 1

Right then, in that office, with the realization that no one knew the truth about my life, my thoughts about the world were shaken.

This quote, spoken by Hannah, appears on Cassette 3: Side B. Ms. Benson looks at the photo of Hannah and Courtney, thinking they’re great friends––but that can’t be further from the truth. As illustrated throughout the novel, looks can be deceiving, and perception is often far from reality. This is evidenced in Hannah’s realization that no one knows what she truly thinks, leading to a growing disconnect from the people around her. This quote also touches on the theme of reputation. Hannah’s classmates don’t know what really happened between Hannah and Alex, but they assume that the rumors about them are true. This scares off Clay, and when he finally decides to get to know Hannah, she’s already overwhelmed by the negative impact of recent events. As Hannah feels increasingly isolated, she grows even more distant and chooses to end her life.

Quote 2

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.

Hannah shares this quote on Cassette 4: Side A, illustrating a central theme of the novel: that every person affects the lives of others, often without knowing it. When Justin exaggerates what happened during his kiss with Hannah, he can't possibly know that it will kick off a chain of events leading to her suicide. Yet his rumors give her a reputation of being promiscuous, and that reputation is exacerbated by Alex’s list and Courtney’s lies. As the tapes play out, Hannah explains how each person featured on her recordings affected her life. When Hannah talks about the impact others have on her, it’s overwhelmingly negative, except for Clay. She begins to open up to him, but the damage others have caused proves too overwhelming. Still, her heartbreaking story has one positive consequence. By listening to the tapes, Tony and Clay gain an understanding of the importance of connecting to others. Tony watches out for Clay, making sure he’s okay while hearing Hannah’s tapes, and Clay reaches out to Skye at the end of the novel, determined not to allow a lack of connection to lead to another tragedy.

Quote 3

Walking by the houses on my way to the party, it felt like life held so many possibilities. Limitless possibilities. And for the first time in a long time, I felt hope.

This quote is spoken by Hannah on Cassette 5: Side A. Though she’s been struggling emotionally and mentally, she goes to a party because Clay is going to be there. A genuinely nice guy, Clay gives Hannah hope of a better future, one that will break the chain of events started by Justin’s lies about Justin and Hannah’s first kiss. Clay and Hannah’s connection, as brief as it is, reveals that Clay shares Hannah’s hope. When Hannah becomes overwhelmed and asks Clay to stop kissing her, she demonstrates that the connection between them has come too late to stop the snowball effect of other painful events in her life. By the time Clay hears the tapes, Hannah is gone. However, just as Hannah felt hopeful that night, Clay feels hopeful when he reaches out to Skye.