Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel by Val Emmich
Review by Lauren
Source: ARC borrowed from Karen of For What It’s Worth; opinions are my own
Official Summary (add to Goodreads): 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.
Review: Dear Evan Hansen is a musical that I am just dying to see, and after reading the novelization of the show, I am even more determined to see it live. Evan Hansen is a senior in high school, dealing with anxiety and seeing a therapist to try and alleviate some of that. He lives with his mom, his dad having moved away and started a new family. He doesn’t have friends, and he spends his school days invisible to other students. It’s easy to empathize with Evan, even when he ends up doing something a bit well…misguided.Dear Evan Hansen: the novel is something I would definitely recommend, whether you know the musical or not! #bookbloggers #dearevanhansen Click To Tweet
Fellow senior, Connor Murphy, commits suicide, and due to a letter he had on him at the time (hence the Dear Evan Hansen title), his parents are under the impressions that Evan was Connor’s friend. They are so desperate to know more about their supposedly troubled son, that Evan lies, hoping to make them feel better. Of course, this lie spirals until everyone seems to think Evan and Connor were best friends who just didn’t tell people at school. It gives Evan something to hold on to, to feel good about, and he likes that he seems to be helping Connor’s family in their grief. So yes, a lie that was definitely misguided, but it’s easy to see where Evan was coming from and how things spiraled out of control.
I really appreciated that Dear Evan Hansen focuses on the topic of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. It can affect anyone and everyone, regardless of gender or status. Evan begins to believe that he could have been friends with Connor.
While the book is told in Evan’s point of view, it also has chapters following Connor after his death. He’s a ghost, spirit, whatever you want to call it, and in these chapters, you get to see Connor reminiscing on his life and seeing what has happened after his death (which obviously includes Evan suddenly being his “best friend”). It might sound a bit strange, but I loved this part of the story because Connor is such an important character in the book, yet he isn’t alive for much of it. I liked getting his perspective.
I definitely recommend this one, even if you haven’t seen the musical yet, like me!