Two highly enthusiastic thumbs up for this book. I didn’t think I could love this show more, but this book convinced me otherwise: my obsession with with musical went from ten to eleven, and I haven’t even seen the show in person! The one downside of this book is that it really can’t be read alone: it needs the soundtrack. The music for the show is available for free to Prime members, and there are a few videos of select songs also up on YouTube. Listen to the soundtrack (with the words in front of you), watch a couple of YouTube videos for context, and then read this book and somehow the $1500 tickets for the show don’t seem as necessary anymore. Reading this book gives such a visceral look not only into the stagecraft and directing of the musical, but also the larger artistic and civil rights revolutionary movement behind it.
There are a lot of reasons to read this book/study this musical: better understanding the driving spirits of America, seeing the connections between history and today, really awesome music (it’s amazing, dangerously catchy), and having a solid opinion of it to sound sophisticated at parties (judgment free zone for your reasons, just listen to it anyway). But what really drew me deeper into this book was that it has a larger statement to say about art, the power of art, and the necessity for blood, sweat, collaboration, research, compromise, and luck in order to reach perfection. Lin-Manual Miranda pours everything into this work, in order to prove that art can influence ideas, that words have power, and–beyond everything–that there is hope. Hope for this country. Hope for its people. And hope for unity. And that’s a beautiful thing.