“Searching for answers. For why I was the way I was–so broken. And so alone, again.”
“Dear Evan Hansen, Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why.” When a letter Evan Hansen wrote to himself was found on Connor Murphy’s body after he committed suicide, Evan was thrust into the limelight as his best friend. The problem is, he is not. From his lonely world, suddenly, he’s popular. But how long could he keep the act, and how can he reveal the truth when the alternative is going back to being invisible?
Based on the Tony Award-winning stage musical, the book by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul, is about Evan Hansen, a teenager with social anxiety. He’s invisible in school until his classmate, Connor Murphy, committed suicide. Due to a letter he wrote that was taken from him by Connor, he was mistakenly identified as his best friend. As high school stories go, the plot here is refreshingly different, making you read it with gusto as you anticipate the ending of the story.
In a way we are all Connor Murphy, and we need an Evan Hansen in our life. Evan becomes the center of attention of everyone in school, and he finds himself with the role of comforting the Murphy family burdened with grief. “That’s the gift that he gave me, to show that I wasn’t alone. I just wish we could have given that to him.” That was the moment that hit me the most. During his memorial service speech, I hear my voice in Evan’s. I become Evan Hansen. His dilemma here is whether he’ll pretend to be Connor’s friend. By doing so, he would make Connor’s memory alive. By creating stories about him and Connor, the two will not be invisible anymore.
“They stand there talking about…how they feel things I felt. The isolation, the unworthiness, loneliness. But how the hell do they know how I felt? I had to die for them to notice I was ever alive.”
There are many books that deal with social anxiety but the voice here of Evan is one of the most authentic. You could feel his profound loneliness in his every letter, in his every word. The book will thrust you into Evan’s world and makes the readers understand more what a kid with a social anxiety is going through.
Geek Rate: Titan Worthy (6 out of 5 stars). Here’s where the critics would diverge in reviewing this book: those who feel what Evan is going through, and those Jareds who do not really care. You would know them as those who dismiss Evan’s narration as frustrating. They just don’t get it. This book is a gift, and an important one because it defines and validates you in a way that is hard to explain. In a world where everyone does not care about you, we need Evan Hansen’s letter to remind us, once in a while, that everything will be alright.