Monday, January 28, 2013

Cult of Personality

Expected Publication: March 1st, 2013
Being Henry David
By: Cal Armistead
Albert Whitman Teen
ISBN-13: 9780807506158

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.


     A seventeen year old boy wakes up in Penn Station with a small amount of money in his pocket, a copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau and no idea who he is, or where he came from.  Calling himself Hank (after Thoreau), he manages to get on the wrong side of a drug dealer and is forced to flee the city.  With very few clues to his past, Hank travels to Concord, Massachusetts to visit Walden Pond and hopefully figure out who he really is - and how to get back home.  With the help of some new friends and some painful memories will Hank be able to piece things together?  More importantly, will he even want to return to his old life once he knows the horrifying truth of why he left to begin with?  I normally stay away from books that sound like they might be shaping up to be murder mysteries or thrillers.  The synopsis and the first half of the book give that impression to a reader.  However, once the second half starts things really begin to clear up and show this book for what it is - a book about a broken family, guilt, friendship and second chances.  Hank is a character that's easy to empathize with.  Not knowing anything about yourself kind of makes it really hard to know where to go or what to do with yourself.  I liked the relationships that Hank formed with Thomas, the librarian and H.D. Thoreau re-enactor, and Hailey, a girl his apparent age with issues of her own.  The slow and painful revelations that come to Hank are tough to read about but very well-written.  The truth of why he left home and what really happened is heartbreaking and made me want to cry for him.  But near the end Hank learns that you can go home again sometimes - just never the same way twice.  Overall a really great coming of age book, with some interesting characters and great writing.  My main complaint would be the lack of obvious reason for street kids Nessa and Jack, other than as plot devices.  And the slow pace did get to me sometimes.   Otherwise highly recommended by me as a reader.

VERDICT:  4.5/5  Stars

*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is March 1st, 2013.*

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are much appreciated and I always read them with a smile on my face! :) While I appreciate the thought, this an award-free blog as well. I just don't have the time to keep up with it. Thank you for my smiles and please share your thoughts! Also, sorry for the Captcha, but I've been getting a lot of spam lately!