Cassette 2: Sides A & B

Summary: Cassette 2: Side A

On the tape, Hannah tells the story of meeting Jessica Davis, who was also a new student that year. One of the school guidance counselors, Ms. Antilly, arranged for Hannah and Jessica to meet, claiming it was for student orientation. Initially, Hannah and Jessica felt that they had been tricked since neither would have shown up if they’d known they were being forced to try to be friends with a stranger. Hannah mentions that Ms. Antilly was later replaced with Mr. Porter, who is both an English teacher and a guidance counselor. Hannah mentions this switch was unfortunate and that she’ll discuss why on a later tape. Clay wonders whether Mr. Porter is somehow involved or has a tape dedicated to him. Clay remembers that on the day Hannah didn’t come to class, Mr. Porter left the school looking nervous and sick. 

In spite of being tricked into interacting, Hannah and Jessica got along well at first. They spent time at Monet’s Cafe and Coffeehouse (the next star on the map). Clay gets on a city bus to avoid the cold, not entirely sure of its route. Hannah says that at Monet’s, she and Jessica invited Alex to join them, after learning that he was also a new student. The three were never close friends, but they relied on each other at the beginning of the school year because they did not know anyone else. 

Alex and Jessica dated at some point, but after they broke up, Alex made the infamous “Who’s Hot / Who’s Not” list. When Jessica confronted Hannah about the list, Hannah tried to explain to her that Alex had put their names on the list in an attempt to hurt Jessica. But Jessica had already heard rumors about Hannah being promiscuous—including rumors that involved Alex. As Hannah tried to deny those rumors, Jessica struck her in the head, leaving a scar above Hannah’s eyebrow.

At the end of side 3, Hannah asks if anyone noticed the scar above her eye during her funeral. She states that most of the scars people gave her can’t be seen with the naked eye. Clay reflects on the sad fact that Hannah’s question cannot be answered since no one from school was at her funeral. He gets off the bus and walks to Monet’s.

Summary: Cassette 2: Side B

Clay orders a coffee, thinking that he will need caffeine if he wants to try to finish the tapes that night. The woman working at the coffee shop tells Clay that she recognizes him from school, but that she graduated two years ago. They talk for a few minutes, and she tells Clay that she remembers him being really nice. As Clay finds a table, he thinks about Hannah’s parents. They moved to town to run a shoe store but took Hannah’s body back to their old town for her funeral. The shoe store has been closed for a while.

On side B of tape 2 (marked with a “4”), Hannah talks about the need to stay quiet. She says that Tyler Down, a student who worked on the school yearbook is a Peeping Tom who spied on through her bedroom window. Hannah recorded this tape from outside of Tyler’s house, which is marked on the map. Hannah then describes Tyler’s camera equipment, as seen through his bedroom window. Hannah says that Tyler’s car is pulling up and gets quiet, then after Tyler goes inside, she continues. Hannah says that when she heard a camera click outside her window, she tried to ignore the sound by convincing herself that it wasn’t a camera click, but that she knew that she should have called the police. The next day at school, when Hannah told a girl what had occurred, the girl became intrigued. Even though they weren’t good friends, Hannah asked the girl if she wanted to help her catch the Peeping Tom.

Hannah and the unnamed girl went to Hannah’s room and waited to hear the click of a camera. Trying to entice the Peeping Tom, the girl asked Hannah for a shoulder massage. After hearing a few clicks, they decided that Hannah should rush to the window on the count of three. The girl walked over to Hannah’s dresser and acted shocked as she opened the top drawer—pretending that she’d found it filled with sex toys and that she was counting them out loud. When the girl got to “three” in the count, Hannah ran to the window. They saw the Peeping Tom running away but didn’t recognize him.

The next day at school, Hannah asked different students where they were the night before. Tyler answered nervously, “What, me? Nowhere.” Hannah then says that if anyone wonders who the girl was that she had invited over, her name is on the next tape.

Clay walks over to the bookshelf in the coffee shop. There are several “scribble books” with blank pages that customers are encouraged to write in. He finds the one from his freshman year, hoping to find an entry from Hannah. Under September, he finds the initials of Hannah, Jessica, and Alex, as well as a photo of Hannah taken at a party standing next to a girl named Courtney Crimsen. Clay thinks that Courtney looks very nervous in the photo.

Analysis: Cassette 2: Sides A & B

With the introduction of Jessica Davis, Hannah’s story explores how small betrayals can balloon into huge problems. While Hannah, Jessica, and Alex connect as new students in town and carve out a comfortable space at a local café, accusations of betrayal fracture the safe haven they’ve created. Jessica confronts Hannah because she falsely believes that Hannah betrayed her by fooling around with Alex. Based on Hannah’s inclusion on Alex’s list (itself a betrayal) rather than facts, the confrontation destroys their bond. Ironically, while Jessica accuses Hannah of betrayal, she actually betrays Hannah by choosing to sacrifice their connection over a rumor. Though no one can see Hannah’s emotional pain, the scar Jessica leaves above her eyebrow symbolizes Hannah’s growing struggle and the continued damage to her caused by others. While Jessica’s actions leave a physical reminder, Hannah knows others in her life can’t see the emotional scars they’ve caused.

Through Tyler Down, Hannah’s story focuses on the destructive nature of invading someone’s privacy. When Hannah reveals that Tyler is a peeping Tom, she explains how his intrusion on her personal space contributed to her downfall. With her parents out of town, Hannah’s fear as she hears a camera shutter is evidence that the picture is a violation. The incident robs her of the simple pleasure of watching the night sky and erodes her feeling of security at home, invading a place that should be safe. Sharing the story with another girl at school demonstrates how desperately Hannah wants to connect with someone, validate her feelings, and be comforted. On the tapes, Hannah punishes Tyler by telling listeners about his role in her story while standing outside his window. She becomes the voyeur, and Tyler becomes the victim. By drawing Clay into the private moments, she turns him into a voyeur, but more importantly she makes Tyler a victim of the same crime he committed against her. By revealing Tyler’s crimes and invading his privacy, Hannah again takes back her power.