Being Henry David

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 about a teen in search of himself. As Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past he realizes that the only way he 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 find his way home.

  • 312 Pages
  • 5.50" x 8.25"
  • 9780807506165
  • March 2014

Buy from Albert Whitman

  • 312 Pages
  • 5.50" x 8.25"
  • 9780807506158
  • March 2013

Buy from Albert Whitman

  • 9780807506172
  • May 2015

Other Places to Buy


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

    - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

  • Introspective high schoolers will appreciate this engimatic coming-of-age story.

    - School Library Journal

  • Think James Dashner’s Maze Runner series meets High School Musical: an engaging and unique book.

    - Booklist

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

    - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

  • The combination of mystery, romance and examination of self is one readers will embrace.

    - ALAN

Awards & Accolades

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

AR Armistead Show

Common Core



  • Accelerated Reader Points: 10.00
  • ATOS Level: 5.00