Dear Evan Hansen novel reveals more about title character


Mia Bolyard

Cover of New York Times Bestselling novel Dear Evan Hansen. Original cover design by Sasha Illingworth.

Back in March when I had a lot more free time on my hands, I had made a “To Be Read List” for all the books in my collection I hadn’t read yet. One of the books on my list was Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Dear Evan Hansen is a novel based on the Broadway show of the same name. Steven Levenson is the original playwright for the show with Benj Pasek and Justin Paul being the original composers for the songs in the musical .

The basic plot is that Evan Hansen is a young man with an anxiety disorder who just wants to make a connection with someone. In pursuit of this connection, Evan finds himself pretending to be the friend of a departed classmate. As we see Evan navigate the mess he makes for himself, we can’t help but feel bad for him as we understand him better than we ever did watching the musical.

There were, obviously, similarities between this novel and the show it is based on, but without the music numbers in between it is a very raw and dramatic story. Also different from the show is we are allowed the perspective of Conor Murphy’s spirit as he watched Evan’s lies unfold from the other side. We get insights into the character of Conor one doesn’t get when simply watching the show. We learn of Conor’s true feelings towards his family, get an insight on why he left this world and what he thinks of Evan’s lies. The addition of Conor’s show added to the story in a way I wished the Broadway show had some version of this in it as well.Whether this is because when focusing solely on the story being from Evan’s point of view he only ever revealed what he knew, or because the broadway show is supposed to fill in some of the blanks, some characters felt a little 2D. But even with that element, the story was still good.

I greatly enjoyed this novel and recommend it to others who either enjoy the show or know how alone one can feel in a room filled with people. The readers can identify with multiple characters, and hopefully finish the book feeling a little more seen than when they started it.

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