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The Every Boy [Kindle Edition]

Dana Adam Shapiro
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When fifteen-year-old Henry Every washes up on shore, the only clues to his shocking death are those he leaves behind in a secret ledger that someone mysteriously leaves on his parents' doorstep. Crammed full of his darkly comic confessions, the pages detail Henry's myriad misadventures on his wayward quest for self-betterment: acts of petty crime with his best friend, Jorden, a romantic obsession with the elusive Benna, and a prickly relationship with a lethal jellyfish. Quietly wise and laugh-out-loud funny, The Every Boy proves there's hope in the darkest places -- you just have to know where to look.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Henry Every, the titular boy in Shapiro's inventive but too precious debut novel, drowns under mysterious circumstances at the tender age of 15, leaving behind a mother who's a little obsessed with ant farms, a father devoted to his jellyfish and boxing, and five years' worth of diary entries written on 2,600 pages of loose-leaf graph paper. This "ledger... is... a catalog of life's wee tics and pangs... threadbare confessionals, overheard dialogue transcriptions, [and] stabs at investigative journalism." For his estranged parents, Hannah and Harlan, it's a window on the wacky inner life of a deeply (but quite happily) odd teenager. Henry's antics and observations are endearingly offbeat for the most part, but become cloying at times: in answer to the essay question "Who are you?" he "found himself starting at the Precambrian era and sifting through four and a half billion years worth of being." Though Shapiro serves up some wise, lovely characterizations (Henry's grandma Lulu, for example), the mostly light-and-sweet narrative stalls in moments of self-conscious precocity, when the author's fascination with Henry resembles a narcissistic adolescent crush. Film rights have been optioned by Plan B, with Shapiro, whose documentary Murderball won an Audience Award at Sundance this year, attached to write and direct.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"A sweet, melancholy first many young writers have been described as Salingeresque that it's a shock to come across one who actually fits the bill." --Tom Perotta, author of Little Children

"A terrific writer with an unerring sense of how confusing it is to be 15 years old." The New York Times Book Review

"A magical, haunting, hilarious debut." --Amy Sedaris

"Anything but ordinary...You could black out every other paragraph in The Every Boy and it would still outcharm Catcher in the Rye." TimeOut New York

"Perversely funny." The New York Daily News

"Henry's mid-novel trip to New York cements the inevitable Holden Caufield parallel, but given Shapiro's coporeal take on youthful alienation, Gregor Samsa might be just as relevant." The Village Voice

"Full of charm and eccentricity." The Arizona Republic

"True to his surname, Henry's confessions record his conflicted progress through the stations of adolescence, the agonies all young people suffer as they struggle with Big Issues of growing up: how to fit in without relinquishing the right to be different, how to know whom to trust and whom to love, how to forgive our parents for the unforgiveable things they do to us." Boston Globe

"Remarkably buoyant and witty...[and] unsentimentally perceptive and optimistic about the oddness and difficulty and even, sometimes, the joy of being a human among humans." --Matthew Sharpe, author of The Sleeping Father

Product Details

  • File Size: 223 KB
  • Print Length: 236 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0618478000
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (February 28, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,267,042 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
THE EVERY BOY by Dana Adam Shapiro is a slender and risky book. Its small size and decidedly short length --- just over 200 pages --- are misleading, perhaps purposefully so. One wouldn't think at first glance that the story of one boy's brief life, told after he has died, and the lives that he orbited during his short 15 years on the planet, would prove so full and ample. Yet the life of Henry Every was positively zaftig.

While Henry's propensity for quirky affectations and color-coded diary entries may incite readers to compare him to a certain Salinger protagonist, Henry is decidedly more optimistic. And while he often dons the cap of world-weariness, much of his delicately rendered observations are peppered with a kind of zany enthusiasm and almost child-like joy. Readers will have to decide for themselves which image of teenage boyhood rings truer, and while they may end up choosing Salinger's, Shapiro's is utterly disarming. Fifteen-year-olds with the sensitivity and awareness of Henry may be hard to come by, but we can still hold out hope that they exist.

Similarly, all the characters that flit through the pages of this novel are hopeful creations, so vivid and bizarre and wonderful that we can't help but hope they will leap off the page and into our worlds. Henry has a hard-drinking, gumbo-loving grandmother named Lulu who lives in a kind of perfect, symbiotic dysfunction with and her brash and fiery Cuban maid Papi; his Scandinavian mother cultivates ant-farms and mangles American platitudes, rendering them somehow truer; and the love of his short life, Benna, has only one hand.

These various personas are more than just amalgamations of quirks and oddities.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I was not sure what to expect from this book, but after reading it, I am hoping a second Novel is not too far behind. The story is told in a unique and refreshing style; I could not wait to get home from work to read it and it pained me to put it down to go to sleep. I highly recommend this book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than "Salingeresque" June 25, 2005
I hope I won't be accused of heresy if I say that Henry Every is more intriquing and more insightful than Holden Caulfield. Having enjoyed Henry so much, I wish he were alive for a sequel. Since that is not the case, perhaps the author will treat his readers to a next book featuring the inimitable Jorden. She is a standout among a cast of well drawn and fascinating characters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just read for the third time... January 21, 2015
This is my first Amazon review; normally I keep my opinions to myself. I'm making an exception for The Every Boy, which is truly great, and deserves to be discovered by more and more people. I read it when it came out, mostly because I loved Murderball, the movie made by the author. Then I read it a few years later, after recommending it to a friend who liked it as much as I did. Then I came across it a couple of weeks ago, started reading a few pages, and was hooked all over again. Where to begin? It's definitely sad (the hero is dead on the first page!), but at the same time it's incredibly funny and uplifting. All the characters (Henry, Harlan, even the small ones like Mope Pope) are unique, but you can relate to them. And just when you think you know where the story is going, it takes a totally surprising turn (two words: Jersey Devil). Mr. Shapiro, if you're reading this -- can you write another novel? Please?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars everyone read! July 13, 2006
Is it a compliment to say that I didn't want to talk to anyone for at least a day after finishing this book? Well, I didn't. It's that kind of a book. The kind where at first you don't want anyone to read it because it's just yours, but then you want everyone to read it. Here are some reviews that sum it up just right.

"Salinger, schmalinger! Burgeoning comparisons notwithstanding, you could black out every other paragraph in The Every Boy and it would still outcharm Catcher in the Rye. Outperform it, too. Icon magazine co-founder and former Spin senior editor Dana Adam Shapiro's debut novel does triple duty as mystery, exploration of love, and aborted coming-of-age story."


"I did not choose to review this book so much because of the plot - entertaining as it may be - but because of what I feel will be the lasting power of this book. Teenage angst has never been more intense. I believe The Every Boy could be taught in classrooms some day."


"This is a brilliant novel by an extraordinarily talented writer. Anyone who reads it with care will see immediately that it isn't Salinger or Roth or anyone else. It is Shapiro, a wonderful, new, surprising talent, whose writing is already elegantly refined."

-- MICHAEL PAYNE, author of Reading Theory: An Introduction to Lacan, Derrida and Kristeva
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Posthumo(ro)us fun from Shaprio February 28, 2007
Had the joy of having Shapiro speak to my film class tonight and figured I would, in return, write the guy at least a quasi-review. What can I say about the book that hasn't already been said? Good book? Yes. Should you read it? Probably.

One thing I would like to address: I have heard many call Shapiro's work empty or hackneyed, citing that he attempts to substitute idiosyncratic characters in lieu of deeper meaning. Granted, the characters are quirky at the least and, for some, simply too eccentric to be recognized as "true" characters. Though we may have seen the "precocious teen/eccentric family" archetype reaching its pinnacle in both literature and film in the last decade or so, the oddities of the characters in Shapiro's work are far from relevant when considering the work using a holistic approach. I agree that such characters might veil deeper meanings, but this is the brilliance behind the work; it is simply up to the audience to lift the veil and search for the universal truths about love, loss, and "jellyfish" the Every Boy communicates while still employing that dark humor we all have come to love.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Good start, but went nowhere
1/2 way through reading this book I wondered if the book was going anywhere and what was the point.
Published on December 10, 2007 by Fuzzy Lizard
5.0 out of 5 stars WTF?!
if you've never heard of the Jersey Devil or an irukandji or an apotemnophile, if you hated high school, believe in love, like whipits and David Lynch, and if you just want to read... Read more
Published on October 9, 2007 by Say LA
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing profound here
THE EVERY BOY is the story 15 year old Henry who, we discover right in the beginning, has recently died. Read more
Published on August 20, 2007 by Ellen Hanson
5.0 out of 5 stars dana adam shapiro, let's be friends
i picked this book up the other day, a different size than all the others on the shelf. and lo and behold, mr. Read more
Published on June 26, 2007 by cassandra
5.0 out of 5 stars i love this book
i really like this book. a friend suggested it to me and at first i thougt it was going to be sad... but he said it was funny and i trusted him. it is so funny and cute. Read more
Published on March 14, 2007 by A. Feld
5.0 out of 5 stars Teenage Wasteland
"The Every Boy" recalls the trials and tribulations of a boy's adolescence, the ups and downs of relationships with family and friends, and a battle for attention. Read more
Published on September 4, 2006 by Kayo
1.0 out of 5 stars Tripe abounds
Overly-aware of itself, this book is filled with every standard trick-of-the-trade device handed to Lit students the world over. Read more
Published on December 27, 2005 by Frank Deango
4.0 out of 5 stars Like the Ice Storm...with jellyfish
In the tradition of Holden Caufield, Igby Slocumb, and Oskar Schell, Henry Every is a disinhibited hero who strays from home and asks hard-hitting existential questions, delivering... Read more
Published on July 30, 2005 by Craigan U
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