Authors Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
This is the spoiler free review of Dear Evan Hanson, the novelization of the hit Broadway musical. If you would like to read the spoiler full review please visit here.
Dear Evan Hanson is a novelization of the Broadway musical of the same name. It’s written by the same creative team as the musical so it is sure to be accurate if not a little phoned in.
I’ve never read a novelization of a musical before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll read another one. I got the story pretty right based on the soundtrack alone and I think only a few finer details were filled in from the book.
The soundtrack for the musical is so well scored you pretty much get the whole play in the songs. For every beat of the book I knew what was coming. I have no idea how this book would read if I hadn’t heard the soundtrack first. If you read it without knowledge of the play please let me know in the comments.
Evan Hansen is a painfully shy teenager filled with anxiety that causes him difficulty just getting out of bed every day. His anxiety becomes heightened when he accidentally gets involved with Connor, another teenage boy, who then commits suicide.
Evan learns many lessons along the way and the reader gets a glimpse into what being mentally ill as a teenager is like. It hits a lot of the talking points without ever being too edgy or graphic.
Dear Evan Hansen is a great introduction to this new(ish) YA genre. Books about hard to deal with subjects like suicide were popularized with 13 Reasons Why. But let me tell you right now, Dear Evan Hansen is far more likely to make you feel warm inside and far less likely to make you want to ugly cry.
Side note, 13 Reasons Why has been transformed by Netflix into an unbearable abomination. It’s an exercise in torture to see what an audience will put up with before finally cancelling their subscriptions. It took a sad story and made it a social experiment.
There’s a reason Evan Hanson started as a musical. It stays light despite the heavy subject matter. It’s approachable and has as happy an ending as you can expect from a book of this nature. You must remember, the musical came first. It was written for singalongs not for shock value.
That is refreshing once in a while though. We need literature that covers tough subjects that families can feel comfortable reading together. Dear Evan Hansen is perfect for that.
Start a discussion with a family book club! Talk to each other about your feelings. Be honest about your anxieties. Seek professional help if you need to. And maybe just sing together once in a while.
3/5 trees 🌳🌳🌳
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Buy the book here: Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel
Buy the soundtrack here: Dear Evan Hansen (Original Broadway Cast Recording)