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Being Henry David Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Bottom line: BHD won me over. Thoreau is there -- indeed he permeates the book -- but philosophy is not the order of the day. The protagonist, Hank, is not content to abandon life's complexities; indeed part of his journey is to accept that you have a duty to society, to the people that love you -- that life is complex and that makes it good. Maybe it's my bias, but I see Thoreau as a temptation that he needs to resist. It's hard to be clearer without heavy spoiler alerts, but I feel the resolution at the end of the book makes that plain to the reader. And, after all, isn't the amnesia he starts with the ultimate in simplicity? Not only no physical baggage, but no mental luggage either? And that is what he fights against and struggles with -- the driving force in the book.
On the other hand, the aspects of Thoreau I do appreciate stand out in the book: Cal writes cleanly and evocatively, with descriptions that are natural and relevant -- no forced metaphors here that will make you wince.Read more ›
I almost don't even know where to begin..I was hooked before I finished reading page one and couldn't put it down until I got to the end. I had about 15 pages or so left and I was getting so tired but, stubborn me, couldn't stop and sleep that close to the finish line!
"Being Henry David" pulls you through a full range of emotions. There were some humorous moments that made me, literally, laugh out loud. There were also a couple of parts that completely pull at your heart and made me cry. Actual sniffling, blurry vision, tears. Not to mention all of the anxiety filled moments as Hank starts to unlock memories and the guilt he struggles with from it. The absolute war he has going on within himself. Things he goes through when he starts out in the streets. There's just so much emotion going on and you can't help but just...feel when reading this book.
Being able to bring all that out in me has placed this book in my top 10 favorite reads. Ever. I'd even go so far as saying it's going into my top 5. It's passion inspiring books like this that make me glad I'm a reader.
I was hopeful that it would be good when I read the synopsis in NetGalley and put in a request and I'd like to thank the Teen department at Albert Whitman & Company for giving me the opportunity to read such an amazing book!
The main character is on a literal search for identity from the moment he wakes up in Penn Station with no memory of who he is. Armistead ties that fundamental question (Who am I?) to the other question that young adults wrestle with-- what if I'm really not a very good person?
All that, plus the novel's strong use of Henry David Thoreau, might lead one to imagine/fear that the work is deep, thoughty, and overwrought. Fear not. Armistead carries her themes forward dramatically without belaboring them, and the novel is a model of efficiency, sketching character and actions in a way that is brisk but not hurried.
It's particularly impressive that Armistead captures her main character's voice so well (even though she has never been a seventeen-year-old boy). His voice so strongly and assuredly fills the novel that we know him and like him, even as he doesn't know or necessarily like himself. The supporting cast is also filled in nicely without ever slowing the forward progress of the story. Armistead's hand is so strong and assured that even as the story takes us cross country to meet an unusual cast of characters, the reader is never pulled out of the story. There is never a moment when you see the author's hand manipulating events, never a moment when you want to say, "Oh, now, wait a minute."
The novel is an easy, compelling read. It's a vehicle with a great deal packed into it, but it never sags under the weight. This deserves to be widely read.
So I put aside the science fiction story (I was between battles, anyway) and started reading Being Henry David. Wow. I know that's not a descriptive term, but it's an accurate one when it comes to describing this novel. I love the main character. Henry David (aka Hank) is believable, likable, and I found myself rooting for him within five minutes of reading the story. I can't tell you more about Hank in this review, because exploring the mystery of the character is a good part of what makes this book work so well.
The other part is just the fact that this is a well written novel. It falls under that description of books which make you keep turning the page, because you have to know what happens next. Hank is a typical guy in an atypical situation. And despite the male main character, this is not just a 'guy' book which only appeals to male readers. Anyone (of any age, because I'm not a young adult) can fall in love with the main character and his story.
If you are a young adult or the parent of one, be advised that there is some violence (described and implied) in the book. It's not the focus of the book, but it is part of several scenes and and used as such to set up the very real dangers inherent in Hank's life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book, but I REALLY wish there were an audiobook for this to support struggling readers who are assigned this book as part of our ELA curriculum. :)Published 1 day ago by ReadingTeacher
Well written. While most of its principals are teenagers, their interaction with adults is very interesting. Read morePublished 6 months ago by richard johnson
My son had to read it for summer reading. He loved it!! So far best summer reading assugnment!!Published 6 months ago by Carmella McHatton
One of best written novels I have ever read, and I have read thousands! Weaves Thoreau's writings and life, and Concord, into a life affirming masterpiece, filled with life, wit... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Robert Jackson
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