Being Henry David

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Cal Armistead


Being Henry David




Cal Armistead

Published 2013

Published 2014

Age Levels: 13 and up, Grades: 7 and up
Pages: 312
5.50" x 8.25"

Accelerated Reader® Points: 10.00
ATOS Level: 5.00

Plot Summary

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.



2014 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People; Best Teen Books of 2013, Kirkus Reviews


"This compelling, suspenseful debut, a tough-love riff on guilt, forgiveness and redemption, asks hard questions to which there are no easy answers." STARRED, Kirkus Reviews

"Believable and nicely crafted, this story has much to recommend it. Pacing and suspense are just right as the mystery of Hank's identity begins to unravel and he faces the terrible event that stole his memory." VOYA

". . .Hank's personal tragedies are touching, as are his interactions with everyone from street kids Jack and Nessa to the more sedate citizens of Concord. His quests for answers and redemption should easily engage readers." Publishers Weekly Online

"Think James Dashner's Maze Runner series meets High School Musical: an engaging and unique book." Booklist

"Introspective high schoolers will appreciate this engimatic coming-of-age story." School Library Journal

"Cal Armistead's story of Hank is not only an English teacher's dream. . ., it's also a clever look at identity and who we are without our baggage." The Boston Globe

"Even those with little interest in Thoreau will find this a solid psychological mystery about a teen who's made a mistake that he can't keep running from." RECOMMEND, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

". . . the combination of mystery, romance and examination of self is one readers will embrace."

Associated Keywords
Henry David Thoreau; Runaways; Walden; Walden Pond; runaways; teen; teenage; amnesia; grieving; grief; family; identity; Thoreau; runaway; run away; secrets; coming of age; young adult book; teen book; young adult; novel; homeless; run-away; self esteem; self reliance; Cal Armistead; common core; siblings; outdoors; self discovery; coming of age; coming-of-age; finding yourself; car accident; bad choices