Rating: 4.5 stars
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 unravelling 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.
USA: 9th October 2018
UK: 9th October 2018
I was sent this proof by Penguin for an honest review. Thank you to Penguin for sending me a copy.
Well, I think I need to start this review by saying that I have been waiting for this book for so long and I am so unbelievably excited that I finally got a chance to read it! I have been a huge fan of the musical since it first appeared on Broadway in 2016 and already own the full script and the ‘behind the scenes’ book which was released, so it is definitely fair to say I love this show! So, naturally, as soon as this book was announced I knew I had to read it, and I am amazed at how well it held up.
There is always a risk when a musical is converted into a medium where there are no songs and music that it will lose a lot of its impact, but this book completely stood on its own. I actually think it was fascinating to get even more of Evan’s inner dialogue than you could ever get in a stage show. The book also stayed extremely close to the stage show, there was a lot of dialogue shared between both, and the little homages made to the songs were such a lovely addition (I spent the whole time I was reading singing the soundtrack in my head). But irrelevant to the musical, the book in itself was fantastic.
The characters in this book were obviously not new characters, but I really felt like we got to know some of them on a much deeper level than in the show. This applies specifically to Evan. Because of the first person narrative in this book, we got to follow Evan’s internal monologue throughout the story and I think this helped me to empathise with his character. Everything about Evan makes you feel a little sorry for him and want to help him, but there is no denying he does some truly terrible things in this story, but by seeing his reasoning and panic behind every decision that is made, you can understand why he does everything, and instead of despising him, just pity him! No one would want to be stuck in the situation he is, and yes he should have come clean at the beginning but he didn’t really have the opportunity. Connor’s parents were going to believe what they wanted to either way and it did leave Evan in an impossible situation.
I also love how they incorporated Connor’s character into this. It would be difficult to empathise too strongly with Connor without a backstory and his thoughts on everything that was happening with him before the suicide. The addition of his backstory really made a difference to the overall narrative in my opinion, it added a whole other layer to the story. It also presented an opportunity to deal with an issue which isn’t touched on as much in the musical which is sexuality. I will not spoil anything here but a character is introduced who doesn’t appear in the musical and they really do add to the development of Connor’s character and understanding who he is!
I love the plot of this book. It is such a fascinating concept and it was developed even more in this book than the show and I cannot say enough good things about it. As well as being a gripping and interesting story it deals with some really tough issues, and it handles them so well! Sexuality, mental health, societal pressure (in so many ways) and just a whole host of other things, it was really great to see so many things covered in a fantastic way.
The writing in this book wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was definitely well written! I don’t think the writing style played a particularly large role in telling this story, but I don’t think it necessarily needed to. Some books are very lyrical and have beautiful prose, but for the story told here that wasn’t needed at all, so the very nice but not extraordinary writing worked perfectly.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was everything I hoped it would be and more, so I am thrilled! I am so happy this book has been written because anything that will introduce this amazing story to another group of people in fantastic in my opinion. I would recommend this to literally everyone, even if it isn’t the sort of book you would normally read it is worth it just for the issues it deals with, I feel like it can be educational and useful for any person of any age to read.
– Maddie Browse