Monday, May 6, 2013

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead

A teen wakes up in a train station in New York City with no idea who he is or how he got there. He finds a paperback copy of Henry David Thoreau's Walden beside him and a crumpled $10 bill in his pocket. That's the opening scene in Cal Armistead's debut YA novel, Being Henry David.

The boy's search for his identity takes him to Concord, Massachusetts, where he meets a research librarian who rides a Harley. "He pulls up the right sleeve of his green T-shirt to show me the tattoo of a cobra, coiled and ready to strike. Except that it's wearing a pair of black-rimmed glasses just like Thomas's, and above the snake is one word in fancy gothic lettering: Bookworm."

You gotta love cool librarian characters like that! I have a snake tattoo (without glasses) on my arm too but I've never owned a motorcycle and I'm too quiet to be cool.

My snake tattoo
Being Henry David is a compelling, character-driven story. A good companion book would be the graphic novel Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino.

Readalikes: Trouble (Gary Schmidt); Tom Finder (Martine Leavitt); and Blink and Caution (Tim Wynne-Jones).

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