dear evan hansen: review
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Published: 9th October 2018
Page count: 370
Reading age: 13+
Genres: young adult, contemporary ✨
Dear Evan Hansen,
Today's going to be an amazing day and here's why...
When a letter that was never meant to be seen draws high school senior Evan Hansen into the Murphy family's grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to lie he never meant to tell. That the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.
Suddenly, Evan isn't invisible anymore. And Connor's wealthy parents have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his 'closest friend'. As Evan gets pulled deeper into their family, he knows that what he's doing may not be right, but if he's helping people, how wrong can it be? No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. He's confident. He's a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. But when everything is in danger of unraveling, he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.
❥ My Review
This book utterly melted the icicles in my heart - thank you so much to Penguin for sending me a copy and giving me the chance to read it before its release date.
I am utter trash for musicals and when I heard this was a contemporary novelization of one, I knew there was no way I wasn’t going to fall at least a little bit in love with it. And I was right, of course - from the very first page I felt instantly connected to Evan, a high school senior with social anxiety and a passionate hate for therapy and school, who finds himself entangled in a web of lies stemming from the death of his friend Connor Murphy (well, take ‘friend’ with a pinch of salt… it’s complicated).
There was something about this story that I found comforting, which is why I flew through it in a weekend between school work. The book explores some serious subject matters such as depression, anxiety and suicide, but handles them in a way that felt extremely real and emotional and the overall awareness this book brings to mental health cannot be ignored. But this was also broken up by chunks of Evan’s borderline-existential dry humour so that I found myself laughing one minute and then having my heart torn out a few pages later (and if a book can take you on that much of an emotional journey, you know it’s good). I’m pretty sure every reader, regardless of their age, will have experienced some of the feelings and doubts that Evan and Connor do, and for me that feeling of finding a piece of yourself in a fictional character can truly never be replaced.
There were a couple of reasons, though, why I felt I couldn’t give Dear Evan Hansen a full 5 stars. Plot wise, it felt a little too slow for me, and certain scenes did drag on slightly. I also felt a number of the characters seemed pretty cliched and flat, possibly because we only hear from Evan’s perspective and get to know him really well, while everyone else is only seen through his lens and didn’t really get much development, which was a shame. Something that I think could potentially bother a lot of readers is Evan’s constant lying. He tells so many lies, to a grieving family, to his girlfriend, to his mother. And it’s uncomfortable to read about. However, at the same time it really brings to the forefront the question of whether it is ever okay to lie in order to alleviate somebody else’s suffering, and warns of the snowball effect that came result from the simplest of untruths.
I’m really not sure how this is handled as a Broadway show as suicide is not exactly a singing matter, but nevertheless if anyone would like to purchase a ticket to a theatre in LA for me so I can find out, I would extend my gratitude. Until then, I will proceed to listen to the soundtrack, on repeat, every day, unapologetically.
Overall, Dear Evan Hansen was an incredibly heartwarming and unique coming of age story about what we are willing to do to belong, and has an overall message that is inspiring, hopeful and so necessary in today’s chaotic world. Evan is a character that I’m sure will stick with me and I implore that you pick this book up upon its release.