Dear Evan Hansen: the Novel

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I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that if it's bad, I'll say so, regardless of how I received the book.

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich
Published by Poppy on October 9, 2018
ISBN: 0316420239
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Net Galley
Buy on Book Depository

I honestly don’t know what to say about Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich. On one hand it’s a beautifully written YA novel of discovery, and suicide and high school, and anxiety, and growing up. On the other, it’s based on a Broadway musical. My mind can’t connect the despair and pain of the story with a cute soundtrack. And yes, I tried listening to the soundtrack.

If this weren’t a NetGalley gift from Poppy, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. It’s harsh and raw and drags a little about 25% in. I continued, and it got better, but I have no interest in seeing the show. It’s too intense a story for me right now.

“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? “

I took that from the blurb. Evan wrote letters to himself as part of his treatment for anxiety. Connor is the school bully who took Evans letter from the school printer. Connor committed suicide with the letter in his pocket, and his family thought it was Connor’s suicide note to his best friend. Not knowing how to correct them, Evan fell into a mess of lies telling Connor’s family what they wanted to hear, including Connor’s sister—the girl of Evan’s dreams.

Most of the novel is Evan’s story, but I enjoyed the snippets from Connor. Connor is like a ghost watching their reactions and silently calling his parents on their hypocrisy. As Evan gets pulled into Connor’s world and learns there was much more to the bully, Connor realizes Evan could have been a friend.

I haven’t seen the show, and I didn’t make it through the soundtrack, but this is a perfect novelization. If I didn’t know it was originally a musical, I would never have noticed. The novel wasn’t a converted script at all. That doesn’t mean I want to read it again. Maybe it’s just too emotionally intense for me now, and I’ll come back to it (it did get easier to read later in the novel), but for now, it just is.

For full credit, the Dear Evan Hansen music and lyrics were written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, with the original screenplay by Steven Levenson.


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Photo by Michael Weidner on Unsplash


More about Bianca

Bianca's a nerdy, book worm who is constantly curious and appreciates being alive while the internet exists. During the day, she's a content writer for a huge multinational tech company. The rest of the time she's reading, and running, and bike riding, and sipping coffee, and taking photos around Melbourne, Australia.

2 thoughts on “Dear Evan Hansen: the Novel

  1. CG @ Paper Fury

    I am REALLY curious about the musical because I just finished a book that kept referencing it! But I don’t know the musical at all so I figure I can’t really read this book eep. It does sound very dark and intense.


    1. Bianca

      And I think I would be more curious if I hadn’t read the book. I don’t know if the soundtrack is on Spotify Australia but it is for the US.


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