Quick & Dirty Book Review: ‘Being Henry David’ by Cal Armistead

Book Cover: Being Henry David by Cal ArmisteadThe Low Down: Kid comes to in Penn Station in New York City with only the clothes on his back, ten dollars in his pocket and a copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. He remembers nothing about how he got there, his name or anything about his life prior to the moment he wakes up. After meeting a brother and sister pair of runaways, he is introduced to a local baddie/drug distributor. He escapes and decides that he needs to travel to Concord, Massachusetts, the site of Walden, since the only clue he has about who he is or where he came from is the book.

I have always enjoyed a good mystery, and there definitely is one here. In addition, the new life that “Hank” is forging over the course of the book makes you wonder – can whatever happened to him, whatever it was that caused the amnesia, be swept away completely by the amnesia? Will he be happy to find out who he is/was, or was it too traumatic? WHAT HAPPENED??

The slow revelation of his past life, the snapshots and snatches of information are intriguing. Plus, he’s invented a new person, and, as this new person, he meets people that he starts to care about. Can his two worlds come together or will they collide unpleasantly?

Setting the story in Concord and explaining who Thoreau is makes this book more than just a teen amnesia novel. It adds a layer of complexity through literature, old-fashioned values and a setting that you won’t soon forget (!).

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead was published March 1, 2013 by Albert Whitman Teen. Ink and Page picked this book up from the library, so no one had a choice about whether it was reviewed.

Rating: 4

Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
Ages: 12 and up
You Might Want to Know: Mild profanity, violence

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