Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Book Review)

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 358

CW: anxiety, depression, suicide

If you are like me and you struggle to connect with musicals (even if I do occasionally adore some of them *cough* Hamilton *cough*), you will be happy to hear that there is a novel based on the hit show that is Dear Evan Hansen. I say this like it’s big news, but really, the book has been out for a year already. And I do even know and like some of the songs from the show, but I am not among the fortunate few who might get to experience it live and just listening to the songs gives me limited amount of joy, so I was really happy to dive into this in a more traditional book-format.

In all seriousness though, I was prepared to sob my way through this book from all I had heard, but I didn’t actually cry until very close to the end. It’s not that there isn’t inherent sadness to it all, but something about the way it was written and told just made it a very fast-paced and easy read for me. I don’t remember the last time I devoured a book in less than two days … Nonetheless, that didn’t keep me from connecting with the book on an emotional level too!

“If the pain is in you, it’s in you. It follows you everywhere. Can’t outrun it. Can’t erase it. Can’t push it away; it only comes back. The way I’ve been thinking, after all that’s happened, maybe there’s only one way to survive it. You have to let it in. Let it hurt you. And don’t wait. It’ll reach you eventually. Might as well be now.”

Evan Hansen is, at least to me, a deeply relatable character. He suffers from severe anxiety, feels lonely and like he doesn’t fit in. Although he has a very loving parent in his life, he feels expectations of what he should be and how he should act weighing him down and ultimately it leads to him making some really, really bad decisions out of fear. I cannot say that I have done anything nearly as terrible as what Evan did, but I like that the book did not try to make excuses for him. Not once did I feel as if this was a redemption storyline, but rather a plea to own up to your mistake, clearly communicate with the people you care about and maybe, just maybe, there is always someone in a similar situation as yourself, so don’t give up.

“I wish that everything was different. I wish that I was a part of something. I wish that anything I said mattered, to anyone. I mean, let’s face it: would anybody even notice if I disappeared tomorrow?”

If I had to criticize one part of it all, it would probably be the love story. I get that everyone handles grief differently, but the way this was told felt a bit off. But then again, so many of the decisions made were beyond questionable, so I don’t even know if you could consider that specific part strange. My head just wasn’t really in it, because all I really wanted was for Evan and Connor to have gotten the chance to be friends for real.

I obviously can’t attest to any of the differences between the musical and the book, however, from what I gathered from others, the book definitely expands on the story and the inner thoughts of the characters (which is neither good nor bad, but just a thing that comes with it being a different format that allows more content than a musical). As someone who did not know all the songs and all the details of what Dear Evan Hansen would be about, I can say that it’s a book you can definitely pick up if you haven’t had anything to do with the musical! 

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A heartfelt and relatable story about mistakes, loss, grief, family and much more!

Have you heard of the musical? Have you read the book? Do you want to? Let’s chat!

T5W: Favourite LGBTQ+ Books

It’s time for Top 5 Wednesdays, a weekly meme created by gingerreadslainey and hosted by Sam @ThoughtsOnTomes. If you want to know more or join as well, just go to the Goodreads group by clicking here. I always decide to do these topics very much at random, but this week is all about our favourite LGBTQ+ books, characters and authors. I didn’t 100% succeed in not repeating authors, but I tried my best, however, I want to add that there’s really a lot of Nina LaCour and David Levithan on my shelf, so choosing one book from them was torture.

What are some of your favourite LGBTQ+ books?

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker (eArc Review)

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Publisher: Random House
Page Count
: 384
Release Date: Jan 31, 2017

**I was provided with an eArc by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!**

I haven’t read any kind of general adult fiction for what seems like an eternity. I mostly dabble in Young Adult Fantasy and/or Contemporaries, but this book (still can’t believe it’s Whitaker’s debut) has reminded me as to why I shouldn’t forget about adult fiction any time soon!

It is not a story I immediately fell in love with. The writing flowed nicely, but there were a lot of references to old time cartoons that I did not get and felt like I would miss out on the full experience. The language is crude and foul sometimes, but always very direct. There’s an excessive use of alcohol and drugs and very few inhibitions when it comes to sex. Sharon and Mel aren’t exactly likable people at all times. They are loud, brash, unhinged, talented, selfish, messed up, brilliant; in simple terms – flawed but very real. That is exactly what made them work so well!

Their relationship is just as complex as they are as individuals. They push each other to extremes, drive each other crazy, but are always there when it counts. While Mel may date half the women in New York and Sharon remains hung up on the first boy she ever loved, it still comes down to them and their all encompassing bond in the end. They weren’t just a team at work, they were a team in life as well.

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I am trying to find a way to express my feelings about this book. I don’t see the point of talking about the plot, that is something each and everyone should discover on their own. However, this book treated a lot of topics and very dark ones at that, which in turn made me feel an unexpectedly large amount of feelings that I simply didn’t see coming. There are themes of loss – quite literal loss of a person you love but also the loss of innocence. Family – the one you choose and the one you don’t. Love – the pure, platonic and romantic kind. The Animators makes you aware that the world isn’t rainbows and sunshine, there are dark alleys and predators. Amidst all of that gloom, it still never lets you forget that there is always someone, even if it’s someone unexpected, who will be there to help you through it.

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The book is “only” 380 pages long, but somehow it felt like three times as much. It’s almost as if you are accompanying Sharon, who narrates the whole story in her unique voice, for an entire lifetime. She grew on me so much and I felt with her whenever life threw her another curveball. It’s such an ingenious debut, so very well crafted, however, I don’t think this is really for everyone. At times, it felt like going into a really deep, really warped and disturbed rabbit hole. It makes sense in hindsight, a necessary journey for the characters to go through, but even I felt like it was too much for me and too crass in some parts and I watch the weirdest stuff on TV. Still, it didn’t keep me from enjoying the story and I doubt that it will leave me anytime soon!

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A stunning debut about partnership and adulthood and all the struggles coming with it!

4stars

Could you see yourself enjoying this book? Can you sometimes find joy in really messed up stories too?

TTT: Favourite LGBT+ Books!

top-ten-tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we get a freebie and since it is Pride month, it is simply not acceptable that I haven’t done anything on the topic yet. So, here we are with a little list (in no particular order) of my favourite LGBT+ books and/or books that feature LGBT+ characters.

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1. Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

The main character from this book works in film and that totally spoke to me! Also, I think I didn’t even knew that she was lesbian when I bought the book, so that was a nice change for once, because I actually think I have more books with gay characters.

2. Wide Awake by David Levithan

This is such an idealistic story, it sends a great message. It is about all kinds of diversity (skin colour, religion, sexuality) and even though it is not my favourite Levithan book, it is still one that inspires.

3. Blue is the Warmest Colour by Julie Maroh

Blue is the Warmest Colour always makes me kind of sad. It’s a movie and because of that I was lucky and got a free graphic novel of the story at work. It’s in German but still a beautiful story.

4. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

We already talked about all the cuteness that is Simon and Blue, right?

5. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Another great Simon character! But I always loved Baz more. He showed up and the story instantly became even better!

6. Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

I might be impartial about this one, because the movie has erased my memory of the book … which was confusing because of the use of many emojis as far as I can remember.

7. Any Shadowhunter book by Cassandra Clare

The Bane Chronicles are probably the most obvious example, but you can really pick up almost any book from the Shadowhunter series and find a member of the LGBT+ community there.

8. Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

I think this was the first book with a pansexual main character … he was one of seven, but still! That was definitely interesting.

9. This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin

This book featured an asexual character in a relationship, so that was definitely something new to read about as well and I really enjoyed it.

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

There was definitely a lot of sexual exploration featured here, even if it wasn’t the main theme of the book.

Which topic did you choose for your freebie? Any LGBT+ book recommendations? (And don’t say You Know Me Well, because that’s already on my physical TBR!)