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.
*First of all, I would like to thank the Publisher, Albert Whitman Teen for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciated! All right, now for my review.
I don’t understand how anyone could not love this book. The romance doesn’t overpower the message the book is trying to get across nor does it stray. I could also relate to Hank as if he were an actual person, not just a character in a fictional story. Being Henry David touched my heart in a way that not very many have. I will forever cherish this book.
Of course the beginning is odd, it takes a few chapters for the story to really get its footing with an awkward writing style (at first) and a boring, too simplistic setting. But all of this changes near the middle. I thought Being Henry David was going to be like other books where the main protagonist meets this person who is crazy and wild and follows them around like a lost puppy like in 34 Pieces of You or Then You Were Gone. But it’s not like that. Not at all. Not really.
There is just so much to love about this book. For one thing, I love the message it gives off because it really did make me tear up and feel a bunch of emotions. And it’s true, the ones who care about you will always care, no matter what. Most of the characters are very easy to relate to and easy to love because as the story progresses, so do the characters and they become stronger and better people. I even loved to hate Magpie with his creepy eyes and accent. The relationship between Hank, Jack, and Nessa seems very realistic to me, another thing that really pulled at my heart. As a teen I know how it feels to be in a hopeless state and being forced to trust the ones you are uncertain of.
As the story progresses, Hank’s memories start to come back to him. I like this part a lot because the memories are pretty stretched out which helps the book stay less predictable and is a lot more enjoyable this way. The love interest doesn’t go from ‘I think she’s cute’ on one page to, ‘oh man, I’m in love’ the next which saved me from wanting to throw the book out the window (yay!).
What an astonishing book this is! I would recommend this book to everyone. Because everyone has, during some time in their lifetime, wish they could live a different life, even just for a day. Being Henry David is just that, a teen wanting to start over only to realize that his life just might not suck.