Teen drama feels like being welcomed home
Dear Evan Hansen- The Novel By Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Grand Central Publishing
For this review I went in with a little bit of knowledge, as before I knew this book existed I had listened to the musical. It was because of my previous experience with Dear Evan Hansen that I was so excited to get into this book and gain a deeper understanding of a plot I adore. Although the story is told from the perspective of Evan Hansen, the novel begins with a beautiful and painful message from Connor Murphy, perfectly setting up the tone for the book and it’s very first plot twist.
When we truly begin we are introduced to Evan Hansen, a teenager who is so clearly lost in his own world. We learn about the many troubles he has faced in his youth and begin to sympathise as we find out that during the summer he broke his arm falling out of a tree and no one came for him for ten minutes. This is manipulated to be a fitting metaphor for how Evan feels alone, with only his mother, his therapist, and the motivational letters he writes every morning to himself. It is these letters that earn the book it’s title and the main plot point for the novel, Dear Evan Hansen.
Due to a series of complications and a lost letter Evan is thrown into an impossible to navigate web of lies. It all started when Connor Murphy, a strange enigma of a young man and the brother to Zoe Murphy (Evan’s crush), signed Evan’s cast and promptly stole his letter. Connor then commits suicide, shortly after the letter is mistaken to have been written from himself to Evan. Evan takes on the role of a wonderfully flawed protagonist as he decides to keep up this lie and almost take Connor’s place in the family, allowing us a peek into a whirlwind of lies, fear, and some truly meaningful lessons.
The theme which most resonated with me was Evan’s place as an outsider, a misfit, somewhat invisible. I dare anyone who has ever felt like that, felt like everyone who cares doesn’t really care, like you’re just a side character in the book of your own life, like you’re floating above everyone you love, not to cry while reading a flawless representation of all those feelings. The way this book made me feel so connected, and so immersed in a situation that I will by all likelihood never be in, is something that I cannot express with anything other than telling everyone I possibly can to just read it. This book feels to me like being welcomed home, being told that everything is going to be alright.