Dear Evan Hansen

EMMICH, Val & . 7 CDs. 8 hrs. Hachette Audio. Dec. 2018. ISBN 9781549117473. $25. digital download.
Gr 7 UP—Evan Hansen is a "shoulder shrug" of a high school senior, taking medication (somewhat as prescribed) for anxiety, and following his therapist's instructions to deliver pep talks in the form of letters to himself. Those familiar with the Tony Award–winning musical know what comes next: a letter left on a printer falls into the wrong hands. When Evan's barely-even-acquaintance Connor takes his own life, the letter is found, and people assume the two were secretly close friends. Further complications include Evan's crush on Connor's sister, Connor's welcoming and heartbroken parents, and faked emails that take on a life of their own. Evan knows he should put the brakes on the deception, but somehow the time is never right, and he barrels on ahead. Connor adds information in some chapters, speaking in the first person after his death. Narrators Ben Levi Ross and Mike Faist, as Evan and Connor, are convincingly teenage, though they sound quite similar. Mallory Bechtel sings occasionally as Zoe.
VERDICT Evan's angst-ridden, often wry narrative is spot on for older teens, and explores the ideas of finding your community and contributing to it. Consider for high school libraries, especially where there is interest in the musical. Connor's ability to communicate and observe after death is counter to the reality of suicide, and may warrant a heads-up to school counselors.

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