Author: Randi Brown

Librarians Read: Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul is a novelization adapted from a Broadway musical.

In case you missed the buzz, it was nominated for nine Tony awards, ultimately winning six including the 2017 Tony award for Best Musical. Not to mention winning a 2018 Grammy award for Best Musical Theater Album.

Dear Evan Hansen is all about fitting in. It is centered on Evan Hansen, a high school senior, who feels like an outsider in his own life. After a tragedy, Evan is involved in a misunderstanding which quickly snowballs from one lie into a web of deception. Along the way, Evan realizes lots of people, including many of his classmates, just want to be seen.

I approached this book with skepticism. Doubting that the author could translate the message and feeling of the performance, in which music is so integral, to the written page. Boy, was I wrong. This book grabbed me. It is messy and heavy and angsty, all aspects familiar to young adults.

For those of you who have seen the musical and are worried the story might be stale, the book includes additional material that was cut from the show which expands on the storyline.

If you are looking for a book about high school with depth and all the feels, I highly recommend taking a heady dive into Dear Evan Hansen. Find it in the Teen section of the HS/Adult fiction.

If you do not have the chance to see the musical, be sure to visit YouTube to check out some performance clips.

Librarians Read: My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn

Elle is an American teen who is down on her luck. This isn’t the bad grade, missed curfew, wrecked a car kind of luck. It is the non-present dad, mom in jail, living in foster care, life is tough – kind of a break. But like a fairy tale, Elle is given the opportunity to move to Tokyo to live with her wealthy hotel tycoon father.

Elle navigates culture shock and tries to discover what her place is in an unfamiliar country, as a student in her elite international school, and as a member of a new family. While encountering different expectations, cultural practices, and traditions, Elle struggles to reconcile her past with her present. Given the opportunity to reinvent herself, Elle finds a place among the popular group where she has to choose whether she will stay true to herself.

I found the characters entertaining and at the end of the book I wanted to know more about their stories. Currently, though this is just a standalone novel.

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life is relevant not only to the members of an international student body but to anyone who has moved to a new place and had to figure out how to fit in. Find it in the Teen section of the HS/Adult fiction.

Librarians Read: The Secret of Happy Ever After

I picked up The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon while browsing, expecting it to be a light summer read about a bookstore and its workers. The story begins with Michelle, meeting and befriending Anna after a mishap in a local café. Anna is a new stepmom, overwhelmed with the life change, who is eager to play matchmaker. Michelle is a new to town businesswoman who is reinventing herself, but there is more to her then she is willing to share.

The initial impression I got was the story would be of the Hallmark meets Lifetime Channel variety. The formula being: girl meets boy, there is a misunderstanding, girl and boy do not get along, they eventually fall in love, then add in a stalker husband. Sure there are all these elements but so much more. This book is really about the friendship between Michelle and Anna. It examines friend and family dynamics, particularly how supportive and understanding can friends really be when they are in different life stages.

If you are looking for an easy read with a bit of heart (without the sap) then The Secret of Happy Ever After might be for you! Find it in the Popular section of the HS/Adult fiction.