"Dear Evan Hansen" is a sad but sweet YA contemporary that addresses anxiety and the power of a small lie. Evan has a lot of anxiety for which he sees a therapist and takes medication. It also prevents him from easily making friends. This school year, he is determined to be different. His mother, who is often too busy working to spend time with him, has given him a marker to allow other kids to write on his cast, obtained when he was climbing a high tree at the park where he interned, and an appointment with his therapist for after school, for which he needs to write a letter to himself.
The first day does not go as planned. Lunch is always anxiety-provoking and Evan decides to ask Jared, a family friend, if he can sit with him. In the process, Jared makes a rude comment to Connor Murphy, the brother of the girl Evan has a crush on, and Evan laughs awkwardly, earning him a shove from Connor. When he is printing his letter to himself in the computer lab, Connor is again there, but this time, he signs Evan's cast, because they both don't have friends. However, then he sees Evan's letter and assumes it is a prank on him (since it talks about his sister) and so he takes it.
Evan is waiting for the ball to drop- will the letter appear online? Will it ruin his life? When a few days later, he is called to the principal's office, he learns that Connor did nothing but pocket the letter. However, he had the letter in his pocket when he killed himself, and his family and the police believe that it was his suicide note. Evan is unable to clear the air and tell the truth due to his anxiety and a grieving family grasping for answers about the son they felt they barely knew. So begins this journey into Evan's new life where people notice him for being Connor's secret best friend and Connor's family begins to accept him as part of theirs- the family he doesn't have.
Told mostly from Evan's point-of-view but with some valuable sections from Connor after his death, this book is full of hope and anxiety. While we all know the truth will always get out, we don't know how or what the repercussions will be. This was a fast-paced book which I read within a day. The characters, particularly Evan, really drew me into this story- he's so genuine, real, and sweet (despite the situations in which he finds himself). I think there are some really important messages about mental health in this book, and I really think the overall flow and tone was well done. This is a story about grief, honesty, and healing that I found really engaging and touching.
Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.