Sunday, May 26, 2013
Being Henry David by Cal Armistead
320 pages, YA Contemporary
My rating: 4 stars
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.
My 2 cents
I absolutely love it when an current author uses inspiration from the classics. Armistead uses "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau in this coming of age story about a boy who has went through tragedy and is trying to find his way back.
So "Hank", as he calls himself, wakes up at Penn Station with no idea who he is. All he has in his possession is $10 and a tattered copy of "Walden". He goes through all types of adventures, a lot of them scary, before he decides to head to Walden Pond. He feels almost a call to the area.
This was a very suspenseful read, because I really wanted to find out what exactly had happened to Hank. There isn't a dull moment, as Hank tries to be inconspicuous and trying to survive in this small town of Concord, MA. The pacing was great, and my heart was pounding at several different moments in the story!
The assortment of characters also helped make the story. There isn't a lot of character development on our MC until really the end, being as he doesn't know anything about himself. We do get to know his friend, Thomas, fairly well. Thomas is really Hank's angel in this case, he takes him in and helps him try to find his identity. The rest of the characters are pretty flat, but they serve their purpose for Hank.
My favorite part of this book was all the "Walden" quotes and references. This totally made the book for me, and it was a constant presence from beginning to end of the story. The ending was beautiful, and had me tearing up.