Monday, September 1, 2014
Book Review: "Being Henry David" by Cal Armistead
When he wakes up in Penn Station, he has no idea who he is or why he's there, with nothing but ten dollars in his pocket and a copy of Henry David Thoreau's Walden. He doesn't know if he should ask the police for help or if he should be running from them. Walden is his only clue... so that is where he goes... and as his memories slowly come back, he needs to decide if he wants to go back or break free and start a new life.
This book starts off with a bang and you feel the boy's confusion and bewilderment immediately. It isn't long before he really is running from the police. Taking a cue from his only possession, he names himself after the author - Henry David, or "Hank". He comes across a few people that can't really help him discover his past but help him figure out his present and future.
This was a pretty engrossing mystery. I liked how Hank was able to discover different parts of his true self. I also liked the relationships he built with certain characters. I don't live too far from Concord, MA or Walden Pond and have visited once or twice and the descriptions fit my memories perfectly. In fact, everything fit perfectly and that might be the only thing that stops me from fully being a fanatic about this book. Even the messier/scarier parts of the book end up fitting perfectly and everything gets tied up super neat and tidy. There is a scene right at the end in which Hank is by himself in a life threatening situation - and I thought that was perfect and necessary to his character - but then it comes to its conclusion pretty easily and then another lucky twist of fate seals the deal for him. I don't know.... it just didn't feel as satisfying as I'd hoped - even if it the outcome was what I was hoping for. I am probably being a little too picky or something. I did like this overall though, don't get me wrong.
I would give this to those who like realistic fiction, mysteries, and books that deal with family issues. Thoreau fans will also enjoy the quotes featured throughout the text.
Being Henry David
by Cal Armistead
Albert Whitman Teen, 2013
Source: Friend's copy