Hi friends, and happy Friday!
Within the past two years, I’ve really become a musical person. Sure, before that, I knew of the classics and greats, but you wouldn’t really ever catch me just casually listening to a soundtrack because I couldn’t get it out of my mind, because I couldn’t stop dreaming about seeing that specific story on a stage with a whole production surrounding it.
Fast forward to now and enter a little show called Dear Evan Hansen, and I’m almost always shuffling a new Broadway playlist recommended by Spotify or I’m trying my hardest to avoid any bootlegs before I get to see the show in person. And, while I’ve been finding these new shows and stories, I’ve been finding new books at the same time—books that oftentimes remind me of a few Broadway shows.
So, that’s how we’ve gotten here. And, without much further ado, let’s get into gushing about some books and musicals at the same time (a total dream, by the way).
Anastasia & The Lunar Chronicles
Maybe it’s because I immediately put “Learn to Do It” and Cinder, Wolf, and Thorne together, but I genuinely cannot stop thinking about the similarities of these two stories, specifically relating to Cinder.
The Lunar Chronicles ultimately follows four different characters we’ve essentially grown up with hearing about—Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Even though we read their fairytales growing up, these retellings arguably smash what you expect out of these strong-willed women. They’re not the damsels in distress we were taught about; they’re protecting themselves and saving others while they’re at it. They don’t fit into the expectations other people hold for them.
On the other hand, Anastasia focuses on Anya and her quest to become the now-found lost princess. Because of a shiny and expensive reward, two wonderful hooligans come across Anya and attempt to mold her into the expectations everyone has of the lost princess so they can return her to the palace and earn the reward money.
Both stories hold such special places in my heart, and they both tackle great themes. Just because you may not fit into the world you’re thrown into or you’re not exactly what everyone expected you to be doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Truthfully, if you like women that are a force to be reckoned with, I couldn’t recommend both of these enough. And, if you’ll need me, I’ll be over here listening to “Learn to Do It” for forever and trying to nail Christy Altomare’s perfection.
Hamilton & The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue
Unless you missed the entirety of 2015, I’m fairly certain you know what Hamilton is about. By this point, we all know that Alexander Hamilton has done some remarkable and questionable things throughout his short-lived life as a founding father. We also know that Lin Manuel-Miranda is an actual genius; none of this is exactly news. But, I must have something for snarky historical retellings, because I couldn’t not include these two on my list.
Both Hamilton & The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue are stories about underdogs that work against other people’s opinions of them. In case you didn’t notice throughout the two hour and twenty-two minute long soundtrack, Alexander isn’t always well-liked. Not to mention, he wasn’t given the greatest childhood, seeing that his mom died and his cousin/guardian was gone soon after. You could say that the odds were definitely stacked against this man.
Monty from TGGTV&V is very much disliked around his social circle. He’s seen as entitled, lackadaisical, and impossible to take seriously. And, frankly, it’s kind of deserved. At the beginning, Monty doesn’t exactly have many redeeming qualities. (I’m sorry Monty, I love you).
But then Alexander and Monty both grow into themselves. They both realize that what other people think doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and it doesn’t really affect what you’re able to do. If you want to propose a national bank, go for it. If you want to go on a long quest and defeat the impossible, be my guest.
Dear Evan Hansen & Fans of the Impossible Life
Sure, I could’ve just recommended the Dear Evan Hansen novelization, but that’d be too easy, right?
You should still go read it though.
At its basics, yes, Dear Evan Hansen is about an anxious, pathological liar that can’t help himself but lie about a classmate’s death. And yes, when you put it that way, it sounds completely horrible and irredeemable. But, and as many of its fans yell about, Dear Evan Hansen is about mental health and feeling the absolute need to fit in. It’s about wanting to make new friends but being painfully shy to the point where socializing brings on a panic attack. It’s about needing to please others before you even begin to worry about yourself. And, unfortunately, it’s a story filled with plot points and characters that just about anyone can relate with.
Fans of the Impossible Life centers on three characters trying to navigate the horrors of high school as they figure out which social groups they belong to, where the fit in best, and their own identities. One of the characters, Jeremy, has completely isolated himself from his peers. He wants nothing to do with any of his classmates, until he sees one of them and feels just a little bit more seen. Then, because of that, Jeremy gets pulled into a new world with new people and new surroundings, and he has no idea what to do. He has no idea if he even belongs there.
Even more so, both Dear Evan Hansen and Fans of the Impossible Life have some stellar side characters that you need to meet right this moment.
The Last Five Years & Landline
I will forever be upset that they took The Last Five Years off of Netflix.
I’m a sucker for stories with interesting and complex timelines. Sure, you can conventionally tell me a story. But what about different perspectives? And what if you start at the end and take me back to the beginning?? Now things are getting interesting.
The Last Five Years takes place over five years (ha) and follows Cathy’s story, starting with her soon-to-be-over marriage and concluding when she first meets her soon-to-be ex-husband. Then there’s Jamie, and his story starts when he meets Cathy before ending in their deteriorated marriage. Because of this, their stories only ever converge when they’re dancing at their wedding. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THAT IS STUNNING. AND HEARTBREAKING.
Landline is similar in the way that Georgie stays behind to work while her husband and kids leave for Omaha for Christmas to visit family. It’s then that Georgie discovers a telephone that lets her talk to past-Neal, before they ever got married. In the future, their marriage is short of failing and the two don’t really talk to each other, but by being able to talk to a younger version of her husband, Georgie is given the opportunity to redeem their relationship.
Simply put, both of these stories have such similar characters and storylines that I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to not love both.
Sigh, I love musicals and books. I also fully understand that my musical and book suggestions listed here aren’t exactly unknown or undiscovered, but I really just needed a chance to gush about these stories.
And, like I said, I’m newer to loving musicals. So, if you have any recommendations, please be sure to let me know! I’m always looking for something new to obsess over.