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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: Being Henry David (Armistead)

Title: Being Henry David
Author: Armistead
Genre: Fiction, Journey, Identity, Amnesia
Pages: 304

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Ages: High School


I read this book well in advance of it's publishing date, so I was able to include it on my Summer Reading list. In fact, I even marked it as one of my "top picks" for high school this summer.

From the Publisher: 

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. 

When Hank finds himself in Walden, he must admit that he needs help and is luckily taken in by one of Walden Pond's park rangers, Thomas. Thomas has faced his own demons and is able to help Hank come to terms with his choices: keep running, or face the truth. And facing the truth means remembering what happened. It is obvious to readers all along that something tragic has happened to Hank, propelling him on this journey.

Armistead includes passages from Walden throughout the book, which adds an interesting contrast to Hank's quest. The Hank we are introduced to from the start is a sympathetic character that you want to be friends with. His relationships with everyone he meets and the life he carves out for himself feel like something he has earned and deserves. But his need for answers and desire not to ignore the memories as they come flooding back earn him our respect. 

This was filled with everything that you want in a book: adventure, mystery, a search for identity/answers/truth, romance, and a hope for redemption. I read one review that called this book "The Maze Runner meets High School Musical" and I felt, wow! That is so not what this book was. Or rather, this book is so much more than these labels. I wonder if the author was excited or saddened by these comparisons? All I know is that this book was unique and I feel like I am a better person for having traveled this journey with Hank.

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