Dear Evan Hansen: Book Review

Megan Resch, Review

As my eyes scanned the bookshelf housing sixty-seven books in my bedroom, I retrieved each book and read the back cover. I picked up one book, and it immediately caught my eye; not only did the description intrigue me, but so did the glamorous coloring of the cover. Dear Evan Hansen was calling out for me to enter its adventure.

Dear Evan Hansen provides an in-depth explanation and accurate representation of mental health issues in the modern world (even though it was written in 2015). Evan Hansen, the main character, struggles with anxiety and depression. He attends therapy to aid his mental health issues which is where the title of the book comes from. Evan (officially named Mark Evan Hansen) must write positive letters to himself each day to provide a positive outlook on his life.

However, one of his letters with the introduction “Dear Evan Hansen,” lands in the wrong hands of Connor Murphy, the antagonist. Evan possesses a crush on Zoe, Connor’s sister, and he discussed it in his letter. When Connor retrieved Evan’s letter, he harasses Evan because of his “stupid letter.” The bullying occurring from Connor to Evan is an authentic representation of harassment in high schools today.

The next school day, it is revealed to Evan that Connor committed suicide. Because Connor never returned Evan’s letter to him, his parents found the letter in Connor’s pocket; finding the letter made the Murphys believe it was Connor’s suicide note to Evan.

Unable to tell the truth under pressure, Evan claims that he and Connor were best friends in high school. The only issue is that nobody ever saw the two of them together. It is baffling to me how the school can believe a fib when nobody ever witnessed the two together. Evan and Connor were outsiders, but it confuses me how everyone so easily jumped onto Evan’s bandwagon.

Evan finds himself caught in a web of lies. He does not tell his mom about the situation whatsoever. Zoe and Evan date by meeting from a lie. His ‘best friend’ in high school was dead.

Using the website titled The Connor Project helps Evan cope with his own mental health deficiencies. By being co-president of the organization, it aided Evan with his anxiety. He learned how to speak in public settings. However, I admire the fact that Steven Levenson, the author, did not immediately cure Evan of his anxiety and depression. He painted a clear picture that although these illnesses can fade, they are never truly gone.

Spoilers avoided, as expected, Evan fell through the web of lies he crafted for himself. Inevitably, everything fell apart. Due to his demise in the high school setting, his anxiety and depression heightened once more.

Dear Evan Hansen is an endearing book which demonstrates the high school life clearly. I was elated because of the accurate portrayal of high school life—it is clear that Levenson did his research. The book focused on not only the negatives of adolescence but also the positives which come with friendship and education.

Furthermore, it portrays a careful explanation of mental health. As someone who has suffered from mental health issues myself, it is astonishing to see such well-portrayed mental illnesses in characters. Also, Evan Hansen showed excessive character development despite his mental setbacks, and that puts a smile on my face to be reminded that people can still improve.

Overall, this book is a knockout. It provides terrific insight into high school life and mental health in the 21st century. With fully-developed characters and explicit details, it was impossible for me to put this book down until I reached the end.

If you have ever needed to be found, read this book. Evan Hansen was not alone—and neither are you.