Friday, March 1, 2013

Book in Review: Being Henry David by Cal Armistead

 Published by Robert Whitman Teen, 2013

Seventeen-year-old "Hank" has found himself at Penn Station in New York City with no memory of anything --who he is, where he came from, why he's running away. His only possession is a worn copy of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. And so he becomes Henry David-or "Hank" and takes first to the streets, and then to the only destination he can think of--Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Cal Armistead's remarkable debut novel is about a teen in search of himself. Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past. The only way Hank can discover his present is to face up to the realities of his grievous memories. He must come to terms with the tragedy of his past, to stop running, and to find his way home.

Why I Read This:

Amnesia, Walden Pond, and everything in between!


What a page-turner!

From the moment I picked up Being Henry David to the moment I finished, I could not put it down. I did sleep, but it was very begrudgedly that I did so.

I fell in love with "Hank" almost immediately. I find that so often in young adult books when we get the story from a male perspective, there is often so much hate or cursing. That is the last thing I want to read! So when I find characters like Hank, I really treasure them.

Being Henry David is the story of a seventeen year old kid who wakes up one day in New York City with no idea who he is or how he got there. He's afraid to go to the police because of the feeling he has in his gut just by looking at them. So Hank is taken in by another street kid but bad things happen to him and he ends up running away.

The story is filled with so a big giant web-of-lies and I had trouble remembering what Hank told to who. I was so impressed by how the author held this part of the story together. I don't know how she wrote such a long book and managed to not get anything mixed up herself.

I found this book very familiar to Dead to You by Lisa McMann in that the mystery of finding out who the main character was in his past life - really grabbed me and made me want to keep reading. There is so much that maybe Hank could know about if he'd just let himself remember but it's too hard for him to think about and nearly falls apart many times when he does. Several times he has breakdowns and it was just...incredibly moving.

I can't imagine being in Hank's situation. It's no wonder he finds comfort in Henry David Thoreau, the only thing he has left of his former life.

One of the best things about this book is finding out about such a classic author from a character like this, and in a story like this. Not only about his life, but so many of the words from his books, and the little things that maybe not everybody knows about.

I would have liked to see a little more happening with "Hank's" family at the end of the story. Everything came together a little bit too quickly for me there, but overall a definite recommendation from me. If you like stories about runaways, amnesia, and classics, then you should pick up this book!



I received a free e-copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchage for my honest opinion.

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