Title: Being Henry David
Author: Cal Armistead
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Source: ARC from 2013 Debut Author Challenge ARC Tour
Challenge: 2013 Debut Author Challenge
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.
Being Henry David by Cal Armistead starts off when Hank wakes up in Penn Station in New York City. He cannot remember how he got there or who he is. The only clue he has to hold on to is a copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. With Walden being Hank’s only clue, he sets off on an adventure to find out who he is.
At its heart, Being Henry David is a coming-of-age story where the main character literally does not know who he is. Cal Armistead uses Henry David Thoreau and the town of Concord to help Hank explore what it means to be him. How he fits into his world and to bring him to a place where he uncovers the mystery of who he is and where he comes from. The people Hank meets in Concord help him a great deal to explore the simplicity and truth of Walden and how it relates to why Hank is unable to remember.
The story begins to unfold as Hank starts to remember bits and pieces and he is forced to confront his problems. He learns that you cannot run away or disappear but have to face issues head on. Ultimately, there is redemption and forgiveness but there first has to be truth.
I really enjoyed Being Henry David and found it to be a unique story with lots of depth. It is truly a strong debut and I have high hopes for any future works by Cal Armistead.
What You Will Find
- Finding Yourself
Cover image and summary from goodreads.