Saturday, January 12, 2013

Being Henry David, by Cal Armistead

Barnes & Noble

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.

I can easily say that this is one of the best books I've read in the past few months. I really, really liked it!

Poor Hank -- he wakes up in a train station and has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only thing he has with him is an old book. As we begin our journey to find out just who he is, we meet homeless men, runaway kids, and a scary-ass drug dealer and his "associates."

Realizing that the book -- Walden, by Henry David Thoreau -- might be the only clue to his past, he catches a train to Concord, Massachusetts to learn more about transcendentalist author. I haven't read much about Thoreau or his works, so this was a great introduction.

Hank stays in Concord and makes friends, meets a very sweet girl, and -- finally -- figures out who he is and why he lost his memory. I really enjoyed trying to piece together what happened via Hank's flashbacks. It made the story that much more personal.

A beautifully-written, non-traditional coming-of-age novel.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

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