California School of the Arts

‘Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel,’ by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Genre: Young Adult

ISBN-10: 1559365609

ISBN-13: 9781559365604

“Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel,” is written by Val Emmich and based off the original musical by Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. This coming-of-age story features Evan Hansen, who is drawn into a family’s grief after a huge miscommunication and the suicide of notoriously troubled Connor Murphy.

With the truth stuck in his throat, Hansen has no choice but to stick to this growing lie. Suddenly, it seems as if everyone in the world knows his name — even the girl of his dreams, Murphy’s sister, Zoe. With this new purpose and even a new website, Hansen spreads word to the people about suicide awareness and prevention. Although the origin of what he’s doing can’t be right, Hansen realizes the effect and benefit that his words can have on people. His lie grows to complicated truths in this incredible story of grief, honesty, and the struggle to belong in a harsh world.

It’s rare for me to ever find a novel I find so interesting that I finish in one reading, staying up past midnight just to reach the end. “Dear Evan Hansen” was one of those books. I haven’t seen the musical yet so the plot, characters and dialogue were a whole new experience for me. I thought the characters were especially unique.

I heard once that if a person were to pick out any quote out of a play or book, the reader should be able to tell who said it. Levenson’s characters are incredibly detailed and well drawn out in the novel. Hansen, this lonely teenager who has accidentally become a social media sensation, is placed in an insane predicament. Yet, with every word and action, he’s a truly relatable protagonist. Unlike the musical, we get a deeper view into character thought and intensions. The novel ties everything together very well.

The plot is unlike any other. It encompasses a range of themes and emotions, dealing with death, loss, estrangement, and the struggles of a teen dealing with a spiraling lie. What truly makes “Dear Evan Hansen” into a masterpiece is its message that “No one deserves to be forgotten.” This story deserves to be known around the globe as it feels so much like reality. Although we hope that a story like this couldn’t possibly happen in real life, from the social anxiety to suicide to depression, the plot is pretty realistic. The novel is a perfect way to spread awareness about such a subject.

I encourage readers to embrace Evan Hansen. To envelop themselves in this world of people just like us, who make mistakes, go through struggles, and live life. Reading the book and listening to the soundtrack simultaneously flows so well. Overall, the novel took me on a rollercoaster of humor, grief, and satisfaction.

I was given this book as part of the Teenreads Teen Board to read and review.