Dear Evan Hanson the novel is a little different from the musical, but the message is the same: You will be heard. You will be found. The novel is just as good as the musical, but I still feel that the musical is a little better than the book. I wish certain information that was in the book could have been in the musical, but I am content either way with how both the novel and the musical turned out.
Some of the information presented in the novel would make sense in the musical, like how Evan’s first name is Mike, but he prefers to go by his middle name Evan. Some of the information given to us comes in the form of dialogue or exposition instead of monologues. Evan’s song about spending time with Connor in the orchard is now all verbalized or thought-out as he’s talking to the Murphy’s.
There’s still Zoe’s love song about how she wants to start a relationship with Evan, but it comes in little snippets instead of the full song. Which is fine. But the musical has Evan and Zoe singing together, as Evan also reveals his feelings for Zoe during the song.
I liked how Connor was still around, not as Evan’s consciousness, but as a wandering spirit. He actually gave us insight into incidents such as throwing a printer at Mrs. G., and how she helped him, how she recognized that he needed help and was feeling frustrated. This would have been something to add into the musical, I feel, because I left the musical feeling like Connor didn’t get the help he so desperately needed.
Connor’s spirit also talks about his family, how he remembers his family, how they didn’t always listen to him. Or know what was really wrong with him. Connor was the kind of guy who seems to have kept a lot inside, bolting down his emotions so that he could try to keep going. The loss of one of his good friends Miguel seems to have tipped him over to edge, because the supposed loss of this close friend really hurt Connor.
Sadly, you find out that Miguel did try to reach out to Connor. He wanted to talk on the phone instead of just text his friend, but by then Connor had committed suicide.
There was a little more information given about Connor, about his home life, and what happens after Evan reveals his lie to the Murphy’s that I really liked. The lack of songs, all of which are really important, especially, “You Will be Found,” makes it a bit harder to convey these emotions just through prose. Still, I really enjoyed the novel, and wish that the missing pieces to Connor’s life–like his friend Miguel, the help he received from Mrs. G–could have also been inserted into the musical. It would’ve been nice to know that Connor hadn’t been alone in the musical, because I came away from the musical feeling like Connor had been entirely alone most of his life.
While this created a similarity between Evan and Connor, it made it much sadder to leave the audience thinking Connor had been a loner his entire life, or at least his life in high school. I’m all for similarities between characters, but this similarity just comes out sad.
There is hope in both the novel and the musical, something I think both elements of Dear Evan Hanson excels at getting the main message across, on both page and the stage. It’s important for the audience of both mediums to recognize the deep importance that Dear Evan Hanson leaves us with, a promise that can affect people’s lives: You are not alone. You will be heard. You will be found.
Overall, this is a wonderful novel, a strong companion to the musical, especially for viewers of the musical, or people who haven’t seen the play. Highly recommended to teens and adults, because the message is important, and needs to be heard by everyone.