Cal Armistead’s first young adult novel, “Being Henry David,” is an emotionally gripping, coming-of-age tale. The vividly written story takes the reader from chaotic Penn Station, to the gritty streets of New York City, to the peaceful site of Thoreau’s cabin. Henry David’s journey is difficult, and at times painful, but his struggle to find himself is compelling an d beautiful.
A seventeen-year-old boy wakes up wakes up in Penn Station with no idea of who he is or where he came from. His only possession is a copy of “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau, and he becomes ‘Hank’ to Jack, a street kid who befriends him. Although Jack is trying to help him, they become entangled with a violent criminal named Magpie, and Hank flees to Concord, Massachusetts, home of Thoreau, hoping to find himself.
Hank meets tattooed librarian Thomas, who takes him in and tries to help him find his past. The bits and pieces Hank starts to remember only make him afraid to find out who he is, and he will have to face those memories—and his fears about them—if he ever wants to stop running and get his life back.
(Galley courtesy of Albert Whitman Teen via NetGalley)