52 Weeks, 52 Books – Book 13

This was a chance to indulge my inner Broadway and general music geekiness. As someone who spent a number of years in music lessons as well as having a heavy rotation of music courses through High School, I’ve been a fan of good music (at least in my opinion) since a young age. I try really hard not to be snobby about it, but it takes a reasonable amount of effort and skill to impress me.

One of my not-so-secret pleasures is listening to the wide variety of music that has graced the stages in New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, and other places around the world through musicals. While many of these are well-known thanks to their connection with major movies, there are just as many others that fly under the general radar. These are the ones that I find often have the best music like this one from a show that never really went anywhere (sung here by a singer/actor who definitely went somewhere):

One of my more recent favourites has been Dear Evan Hansen, a musical that deals with mental health, addiction, suicide, love, and loss in a unique way. It can hardly be said to have flown under the radar after it won multiple awards (including multiple Tony Awards and a Grammy), but it hasn’t achieved the same level of visibility of other shows. I was very excited when the audiobook version of the novel showed up on my library’s audiobook app. I figured I was going to see the source material that made such a great musical…except that when I looked into it, the musical came first.

Oh well, that is neither here nor there, the point is that it is a compelling story that works quite well even without the music! This novelization (and by extension the musical) captures the mental health struggles of the titular Evan without ever veering into tokenism or caricature. The insight into Evan’s head, accompanied by his internal narrative means that we get a glimpse into a worldview that many of us have never experienced. The story’s central point, that anyone who is lost can be found again and that we are all lost to some extent or another is an excellent look at how easy it is for us to become alienated from even those closest to us.

This storytelling (both the writing and the audio narration) were so close to the mark that I could easily see myself in Evan, and often found myself cringing at things that he did. While the story reaches a nice plateau in the middle of the narrative, the inevitable will not be denied. That being said, I’m not sure if I was blind to the twist at the end (yes, there is one), or if the writing was good enough that they were able to slip it by me right up until the big reveal. Without giving away what it was, I will say that it sheds the whole story in a completely different light.

This is an excellent book that speaks to many people in many different ways. If you want to read it yourself, just click on this picture and you’ll be taken to the Amazon listing for the book.

Or, if you want to hear the Original Broadway Cast album, click here:

Of course, you can always listen to my favourite selection from the album on YouTube:

And if you want tickets to see the musical…well, just visit the website!

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