Book Title and Author: Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul
General Thoughts: Dear Evan Hansen is based on the Tony Award-winning musical of the same name. Having listened to the cast recording numerous times, I was already familiar with the show prior to reading the book. As such, I inevitably had some expectations for the story, and I found that the novel did a great job of staying true to the original story told by the Broadway musical while also expanding upon it and its characters―which is the best part about the it. The book is well written and allows for a wider telling of the story, offering more perspectives than the show does. It even pulls from different songs/lyrics in the show and weaves them into the narrative well.
Dear Evan Hansen is about a high school senior, Evan Hansen, who suffers from anxiety. He tells a lie about a fake friendship with a student, Connor Murphy, who had just died by suicide, allowing him to gain new benefits in his life.
The musical itself focuses a lot on Evan’s perspective but simply doesn’t allow for more about Connor. But with the book, there’s room to tell the story further, making it a deeper, more complex and compelling story.
Book Title and Author: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
General Thoughts: The Hate U Give is another young adult book I’ve wanted to read for years but never got around to. With the movie being released in October, I knew it was time to finally read it because I always try to read the book before watching a movie adaptation.
Being from the Chicago suburbs and therefore getting Chicago news all the time, the concept of an unarmed black man being shot and killed by a police officer wasn’t new to me. But the book and the story was about more than that. It’s about how people are treated differently because of the color of their skin. It’s about how certain groups of people get stuck in certain circumstances. It’s about using your voice to make a difference. It’s about the sacrifices people make to take care of those whom they love. It’s about those who are left behind after tragedies and how to make sure they’re remembered.
The Hate U Give is a story about a teenage girl who is dealing with the unfair death of her best friend and how that affects her and the world around her. It’s a powerful, eye-opening story that shows people what the world is like for certain peoples.
General Thoughts: October was a slow reading month for me because I’ve been busy with a lot of other things, but I really wanted to read this biography before the movie it is based on came out: Beautiful Boy, starring Steve Carrell and Timothee Chalamet.
Tweak tells the deep, intense story of drug addiction and the toll it takes on one family. Nic takes you through his downward spiral, starting in high school with excessive pot smoking and alcohol consumption and his subsequent slow consumption with crystal meth. His stories involve multiple rock bottom moments, intense rehab experiences, and chronic relapses, but it’s told through the lens of a teenage boy―Nic writes as if he is speaking. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn more about drug addiction, as Nic’s first-hand account is very poignant and timely. I even got the chance to see the movie last week and thought it was incredibly moving and well done. Addiction is a hugely important topic, and this book sheds light on some important aspects of a highly stigmatized mental illness.