“Dear Evan Hansen” shows what you should be truly thankful for


R. Murphy

Riley Murphy

One of the many things along with reading, watching movies, and pasta that I’m both passionate about and fascinated with is theater. While I don’t have the talent or skills to actually be in a play or musical, I love being able to experience the stories that come to life through the amazing talent and cinematics. And while I often don’t have time to see some of the countless amazing productions in Chicago theater, I found that you can also witness the magic through reading. 

This summer, I read what would soon be one of my favorite books: “Dear Evan Hansen.” Now before going any further, it must be clarified that this book was not the inspiration for the musical. Unlike most productions, the musical itself was the inspiration for the book. 

After “Dear Evan Hansen” became such a huge hit, winning three Tonies and a Grammy, playwrighter Steven Levenson, author Val Emich, and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul put their heads together in order to create the book. 

“Dear Even Hansen” follows the life of (you guessed it) Evan Hansen as he struggles through high school trying to make friends, attempting to venture out of his comfort zone, and dealing with his parents’ divorce. One day, Evan runs into the infamous druggie, Connor Murphy. And before you ask, no, we are not related. 

After a brief encounter with Connor, Evan moves on with his life…or so he thought. The next morning, Connor Murphy is found dead after he committed suicide. After hearing this horrible news, Evan is left shocked and bewildered as he realizes no one truly knew or understood Connor. This is where the story begins. 

As Evan creates a web of lies explaining the strong friendship he and Connor had, and forms a Connor Murphy foundation in order to spread awareness for suicide prevention, he quickly realizes his “good deed” is anything but good. 

What I really enjoyed about this book was how deep the characters were. They were more than just teenagers in high school, but rather people you had questions about and you wanted to understand. While I have not seen the full production of “Dear Evan Hansen,” the snippets I have seen on Youtube have equally reflected that. 

Along with artfully constructed characters, Emich also did an outstanding job creating natural dialogue that you often don’t see in most young adult novels. Instead of adult writers trying to implement young and hip teen terminology, Emich kept it simple, letting the words and actions speak for themselves. 

If you’re looking for a book to read over this Thanksgiving, I would highly suggest picking up a copy of “Dear Evan Hansen.” It will truly help you realize how thankful you are for your friends and family. 

If you’re interested to see what the musical is like, I would recommend looking up some clips on Youtube and listening to the soundtrack.