Welcome to another book corner! When I’m not reading Flash and Arrow fanfiction (or writing it!), I read books. Last month it was Dear Evan Hansen. I’ll also mention one of my favourite short stories from February. Reviews are spoiler free, except maybe the comments section!
Dear Evan Hansen. Today is going to be an amazing day, and here’s why.
Book content warning: Suicide, Anxiety, Depression, Drug references.
Despite the content warnings above, I found the book’s message positive overall.
I’ve been obsessed with the soundtrack of Dear Evan Hansen since I discovered it on YouTube. It’s a musical, and the book is the novelisation of that. I adore musicals, and I’ve been waiting since Christmas to read it. I picked it up after Ladies Guide to Petticoats and Piracy and read it in 5 days, despite it not being my usual genre (no dragons, no fantasy, no magic!).
High school student Evan is a loner who struggles with severe anxiety. He becomes tangled in a web of lies when a letter he wrote to himself, an activity suggested by his therapist, is found in the possession of Connor, a classmate who committed suicide. Connor’s parents assume Evan was friends with their son, and that one misunderstanding, which Evan initially struggles to explain because of his anxiety, spirals out of control.
Things I loved:
Evan’s struggle with anxiety was so familiar and real. The awkwardness, the things you say to fit in, the questioning of others intentions and analysing the meaning behind every word they say. This was my life in high school. Anxiety is exhausting, and the book captured it well.
Evan’s relationship with his mother: How hard it is to talk about anxiety, even with family. It can be easier to force a smile, to tell everyone you’re okay because you think that’s what they expect to hear.
The powerful message: Dear Evan Hansen deals with important, difficult, topics. Suicide, depression, anxiety, and feeling isolated, but the message is positive. You are not alone. If you’re anxious reach out to someone, or check out Anxiety UK. If you’re feeling depressed or suicidal the NHS has links to free 24 hour helplines (Email too).
The pacing: It was perfect, and I think that’s why I struggled to put it down. I could also hear the songs from the musical shining through. Also, bonus: Grant Gustin and Darren Criss (Glee, The Flash) did a cover of one of the songs, Sincerely, Me, and it’s just so fun to watch!
Zoe Murphy: I connected with Connor’s sister deeply. Her brother was a jerk to her, but she lost him, and that kind of relationship, losing someone like that so suddenly, is so difficult. Believe me, I know, and her families song, Requiem, is one of my favourite songs right now.
I don’t often give out 5 stars, but Dear Evan Hansen spoke to me deeply. I can relate to it, and I love the songs, so maybe that influenced my opinion. I know I’ll read it again, I’ve already read fanfiction, and I’ll hopefully be seeing the musical in London!
I’ve heard people say the supporting characters are bland stereotypes: Jared is a tough acting computer whiz (whose actions made me uncomfortable at times), Alana is an overachiever, and Zoey is a guitarist and Evan’s crush, but this is Evan’s story, and as those with anxiety often focus inward I think it’s okay we only get a snapshot of other characters.
Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand is a blog run by a group of writers who post monthly writing prompts. The February prompt was awesome: In a fight, they’re lethal. Around each other, they melt. It inspired a scene for my Merlin work in progress, but I can’t share because spoilers!
Nicole’s story based on the prompt was amazing. It had magic, spells, love, and war rolled into one. It’s stand alone, but I felt like it could be the start of a new story. If you have some time, check it out 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Have you read Dear Evan Hansen? Seen the musical? Read any great short stories? Chat in the comments!
Coming soon to the book corner: Beyond the Throne, and next week, my March updates. (Spoilers: It has kittens!)
Remember, You are not alone!