(I was very kindly sent a proof of this book by Penguin ahead of it’s release. My opinions haven’t been affected though.)
I first learned about the story of Dear Evan Hansen last summer, and I can’t tell you how I stumbled across the story, but I found myself listening to Ben Platt’s performance of Waving Through A Window on ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’ and I was hooked and have been hooked ever since, for so many reasons. It’s a powerful story that I’m so happy is now in book form (and coming to the West End next summer!).
If you aren’t familiar with the story, Evan Hansen is a 17 year old high school student who has a hard time connecting with the world around him. On the advice of his therapist, he begins to write himself letters everyday. ‘Dear Evan Hansen, Today is going to be a good day and here’s why…’ When he prints off one of these letters at school one day, Connor Murphy takes it and pockets it. What ensues is a lie that was never meant to happen, but may have given Evan a shot at what he’s always wanted – a chance to fit in.
There’s a reason this story resonates with so many people, because at its very core it is a story of acceptance. There are countless people who will feel a connection, on some level, with Evan and feel like their story is being heard, and that’s incredible. Although I’ve never seen the musical, I did find myself placing the songs from the soundtrack as I went along. And although I can’t comment on how well Val wrote the novel, I felt a huge connection with it either way.
It’s a book that will genuinely leave you gripped, no matter which kind of books you usually read. You’ll be hanging on by a thread as you try to find out what is happening throughout the story, and even if you know (vaguely) what is about to happen, you’ll still feel it – I can attest to that. It’s a book that packs an emotional punch, and you should not underestimate it – it’s certainly not a heavy read, but you should be prepared for just how much of a rollercoaster it is.
Fans of any kind of YA novel will find themselves in this book, and I really mean any novel – it’s required reading for anyone and everyone. If you can’t, like me, go and see the musical, please read the book. It’s a story that deserves a place in the world today and a story that deserves to be heard.