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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Talks about real issues teens work through, including thoughts of suicide, grief, anxiety, depression, loneliness. Authors' note at end provides statistics about suicide from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, also lists resources including The Child Mind Institute, Crisis Text Line, and The Trevor Project.
Although the teen characters struggle with some big issues, the book's message is about how to heal and support others through honest communication, empathy, and kindness. It's important to remember that you're not alone, everyone makes mistakes, and it's OK to ask for help.
Positive Role Models
Evan is a flawed character who lies a lot because he has trouble interacting with others. He lets one particular lie spiral out of control but eventually realizes that he has to reveal the truth. He does try to bring some comfort and solace to the Murphys, who believe they're learning more about their son from his "best friend." The Connor Project becomes a positive online community for others to reach out to for help and to share their stories. The Murphys and the Hansens love their kids but aren't always great parents.
Story has a few diverse characters. Evan's friend Jared is Jewish and talks about cultural holidays like Rosh Hashanah. Miguel is Mexican. No other character is described in a way that indicates they aren't White. Miguel is gay, and Connor calls himself "something in-between" gay and straight. They have a positive romantic relationship, but it's only in short flashbacks. Other teens make gay jokes. Economic difference is a plot point -- the Murphys can provide college tuition, while the Hansens struggle -- but it's never really resolved. Women like Zoe and Heidi are important in Evan's life, but Jared objectifies other women's bodies.
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Violence & Scariness
The entire story revolves around Connor's suicide and it, as well as suicide methods, are discussed a lot. Another character mentions that he attempted suicide and tries a second time. Evan has a broken arm after falling from a tree. Teens talk about self-harm, school shooters, lockdown drills. A family is threatened and doxxed online. Some teens act violently (shoving, throwing things).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters make lots of sexual jokes about topics like "jerking off" too much, getting to second base below the bra, "sucking d--k" for meth, locating genitals, looking like sex criminals, and more. Jared objectifies women's bodies. Evan has a crush on Zoe, and they eventually date and kiss. Other teens show affection and talk about hooking up. One couple lies in bed while partially undressed.
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Characters repeatedly use variations of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), "d--k," "MILF," "jerking off," and more. "Lame" and "crazy" are used occasionally.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Evan takes prescription drugs Lexapro, Ativan, and Adderall. Mentions of weed, edibles, smoking drugs, and getting high. Adults drink wine and Scotch; mention of underage alcohol sampling. Substance abuse and rehab are big topics. One character makes a joke about "sucking d--k" for meth.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel, by Val Emmich, Steven Levensen, Ben Pasek, and Justin Paul, expands on the Tony Award-winning musical of the same name. Told from the perspectives of teenagers Evan Hansen and Connor Murphy after the latter's death, this powerful coming-of-age story deals with heavy topics including suicide, grief, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. The authors have included links to the Child Mind Institute, Crisis Text Line, and The Trevor Project for anyone in need of help. Strong language includes variations of "s--t," "f--k," "bitch," "d--k," and more. Characters make sexual references and jokes about topics like "jerking off" too much, getting to second base below the bra, "sucking d--k" for meth, and more. Teens kiss and talk about hooking up, and a couple lies in bed while partially undressed. Although the subject matter might be difficult for sensitive readers to handle, there are positive messages for teens about honest communication, empathy, kindness, and finding meaningful relationships.
Is It Any Good?
This poignant coming-of-age tale thoughtfully portrays heavy topics including suicide, grief, and mental health issues while powerfully reminding teens that they're never alone. Told mostly from Evan's point of view, with a few key passages taking Connor's perspective after his death, this heartbreaking and timely stage-to-page novelization shows how easily lies spiral out of control -- and how important authentic connections are.
Readers might find themselves frustrated by the lengths to which Evan will go to find acceptance and a sense of belonging: His growing lies end up really hurting some people. But Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel will ultimately help teens understand the importance of honest communication, empathy, kindness, and finding meaningful relationships.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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