Evan Hansen’s real name is Mark Evan Hansen. Those initials form the expression of someone either groaning or indifferent. And that’s how he feels he is with the world. No one at school even knows how he broke his arm. To him, it’s kind of a pathetic story. He saw a tree while at his job as a park ranger last summer, had a strong desire to climb and fell. And he stayed there for ten minutes, imagining and waiting for someone to come get him. He does have a friend, or half-friend named Jared, who jokes at his expense like my sister does. The only one Evan wants to see him as Evan Hansen, as an “eh”, “Good job, eh” is a musician named Zoe Murphy. Instead of going after her, he is told by his doctor to write notes to himself, in the form of “Dear Evan Hansen” to try to talk to himself. One day one of these notes is intercepted by Zoe’s brother, outcast Connor Murphy. And it turns out, Evan just might have been the last person Connor spoke to before he hung himself. This puts him in a situation of heartbreak, responsibility, meaningwell lies, and personal demons.
Oftentimes, during my birthday and Christmas, new books are all I really want. Libraries are preferable, but some books I own bring out a soul within me being able to see their spines every day. But it’s been a while since I got a book out of surprise. These days, I’m just asked what I want, and five years ago, I got the first Michael Vey book and everyone who knows me knows how much that book changed my life. And this, alongside the Fantastic Beasts Crimes of Grindelwald screenplay-transcribed book, were the ones. They were both eye-openers to new and rare types of books I maybe never would’ve picked out.
I think the reason I never would’ve picked up this book on my own is maybe I’m still trying to welcome myself to books out of the box. I decided to read Hillary Clinton’s autobiography of the disastrous election after my curiosity beat my disregard nerve, and I’m now more open to reading non-fiction crafts. And not many books are based on visual entertainment. It’s usually vice versa. A book based on a TV show was different but not in my interest zone. I’ve also never read a book written by four people before, and apart from one short book trilogy I didn’t like and a few children’s books with a writer and illustrator, I’ve never read anything with two. Either I’m narrow-minded or there’s not much of those books or both. But here’s my last little story before we go on to the meat of the actual book. This took me about nine days to read, and during that time I was in a generally negative mood. I’d wake up feeling unsure of myself and my so-called skills, and I all of a sudden felt sad about how many friends I’ve not kept in contact with, and how I wish I could spend more time with my family...and looking back, you guessed it, these emotions may have stemmed from reading this book. I’ve read hundreds of books over the last five years, and not many can do something like that.
At first, having not read the synopsis on the jacket I thought this would be another Holding up the Universe with overdrive on infatuation, predictability, and fake swoons of short-chapter cliffhangers. It may have a little of the final thing, which I assume is from the four authors each trying to add a bit of sugar and spice wherever they individually can and going maybe a little overboard as a result, but the swoons are certainly not fake.
The antagonist kind of switches, depending on the circumstance. In reality, I’d say the bad guy is life. Life in general. Evan keeps trying to do the right thing and whenever he comes up with a lie, I asked myself if I would’ve done the same. You can always understand the pressure.
There’s also a side-narrator that pops in once in a while, and it’s a ghost. At first it seemed to be just weird filler that wasn’t going to go anywhere, but we get more invested in the part of the story Evan doesn’t know about as his story is partially witnessed from someone else’s view, and as the crusade goes on, I found it actually positively unsettling thinking about Evan being watched in the way that he is, but it’s not as creepy as I’m making it out to be. It’s not creepy at all, really.
Writing books about someone’s life self-destructing on them and getting us to care about all of it requires an honesty, openness and desperation to work, and when the cracks finally begin showing by the two-third mark, I was so invested I was sometimes scared to keep reading. And the final sidebar chapter might make you want to call a relative, and tell them you love them.
Also, the next time you’re at a bookstore or library, I’d suggest looking for a copy and stare at the cover for a minute. That tree has every beautiful shade of blue I can imagine, so defining of the natural beauty of wildlife, dyed blue from its original green and brown or not. Every time I went to bed after a read session, I’d stare at the tree again for a while. Dear Evan Hansen is a book that takes a while to finish and has some moments of traction and end-chapter repetition, but that tree will be there on my shelf, for me to look at and remember all that happened when I was reading this book.