Published: 15th October 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books
Format: Paperback (courtesy of the Publisher for review)
From the show’s creators comes the groundbreaking novel inspired by the Broadway smash hit Dear Evan Hansen.
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 by anyone draws high school senior Evan Hansen into a 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 a lie he never meant to tell, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.
Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore–even to the girl of his dreams. And Connor Murphy’s parents, with their beautiful home on the other side of town, 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 swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows that what he’s doing can’t 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. And a website. He’s confident. He’s a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.
A simple lie leads to complicated truths in this big-hearted coming-of-age story of grief, authenticity and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation.
Dear Evan Hansen is a hit Broadway musical that deals with social disorders, mental illness, suicide, first loves, sexual orientation, rights and wrong and essentially growing up in the world of readily available social media. It’s a story about the lengths we go to remember those no longer with us, and what each of our lives really mean. In October 2018, Val Emmich teamed up with the show’s writers and together they adapted the musical into a novel that is everything fans of the soundtrack and show have been waiting for.
Evan Hansen is a high school student with high social anxiety, and no real friends. Needless to say he is dreading the first day of his senior year at school. Seeing a psychologist on and off for years, Evan has been tasked with ‘homework’ whereby he has to write himself letters about how good his day will be/was. In one such letter he speaks about his crush on a girl at school named Zoe Murphy, a mistake he will forever live to forget. For at lunch on his first day back, Connor Murphy, the school’s resident ‘druggie’ and Zoe’s older brother, happens upon this letter after signing Evan’s cast (he has a broken arm) and the pair are forever linked in what is perhaps the most devastating twist of fate and series of unfortunate events.
With Connor committing suicide mere hours after their run in, Evan Hansen’s life is irrevocably changed. Linked by a letter, and a name scrawled on a cast, Evan can not escape the ghost of Connor Murphy and the tragic decisions he makes in order to comfort the Murphy family, and himself, in their time of need.
What follows is a small lie to heal someone’s pain, that snowballs into an international movement far greater than any one person. One built on a line that threatens everyone involved and everything they all stand for.
Important… because I know what it’s like to feel invisible. Just like Connor. Invisible and alone and like nobody would even notice if I vanished into thin air.
Dear Evan Hansen is an incredibly hard book to break down in a review. It’s an emotionally astounding book that holds nothing back from the reader in all it’s shocking highs, and crushing lows that hit you like a semi trailer you didn’t see coming. It’s a book that speaks to the universal truths in all of us about wanting and needing to belong, the way we remember those gone before their time and what it means to live. Really live.
That’s what happens when people leave, I think. When they’re gone, you don’t have to be reminded of all the bad things. They can just stay the way you want them forever. Perfect.
What I found amazing with this adaption was how true and close they were able to keep the novel to the original Broadway production. Being an avid musical lover myself, and somewhat obsessed with this musical in particular, I knew every lyric of every song and this novel had a lot to live up too (even before I saw the musical in person that same month). I can confidently stand here now, having seen the Broadway production, read the novel and listened to the soundtrack, that Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel, is the book that fans of the musical have been waiting for … for years. Emmich has done an amazing job of absorbing Levenson, Pasek’s and Paul’s lyrics and play book into what is perhaps one of the most ambitious and complex undertakings of 2018. The musical’s lyrics are literally transcribed effortless into Emmich’s narrative through dialogue between the characters and even simple sentences, so much so that anyone who has listened to the soundtrack will be singing the songs in their head as they read.
What’s more, Emmich has sacrificed nothing of the show creator’s emotional journey and visceral reactions, for let there be no doubt, Dear Evan Hansen is not a comfortable read, musical or soundtrack to listen to. It was never meant to be. The story is meant to incite, make the reader uncomfortable, anxious and completely overwhelm them like all good stories do.
For me personally, I shook while reading the novel. I cried, I bawled, I threw it across the room and was emotionally and mentally devastated by everything it represents and evokes. It took me MONTHS to get over my book hangover … one I find that still sneaks up on me unexpectedly on occasion. It gave me goosebumps. But most importantly, it felt real, authentic even. It’s even started a global movement itself through it’s messages and songs about being who you are, and having worth and not being forgotten.
I could talk for hours about this book and the original musical. I could give you a thousand reasons why you need to rush out and buy it ASAP; why it’s a book that every person in the world, not just high school students NEED to read. It’s a book I can’t say much about for fear of giving too much away; it’s an experience you MUST live for this book represents much of human make up and humanity.
Dear Evan Hansen is a special, out standing novel that will forever hold a strong place in my heart. It’s something I want to re-read again, but am not ready for the emotional fall out that I know will take place no matter how many times I read it. It’s a book you live daily, a book with heart and soul and so much emotion that it overcomes the reader. It’s sensational and epic, and there really are just not enough words to describe it.
So go out and buy a copy for yourself, your sister, your aunt, your brother, your best friend. For it’s a story about little people and empty spaces, small moments that have the capacity to capsize and overwhelm big moments, and will change the course of someones life. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
To purchase a copy of Dear Evan Hansen, visit the following online retailers:
To learn more about Val Emmich, visit the following social media sites: