Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mini Reviews: Being Henry David by Cal Amistead

Soo...last week I got an e-mail from NetGalley being all like "Yo gurl where you been? Remember those books you got for free like a year ago? You totally owe us some reviews. PAY UP."  So I thought maybe I should get on that.  Unfortunately I actually DID mean to put up reviews for this before my hiatus...but now I've kind of forgotten a lot of stuff.  Commence mini review #1!

Being Henry David 

Summary

Goodreads: 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.


Thoughts

This book was interesting...in a way that at times I didn't entirely love, but in the end did touch me. I think my biggest problem is that it reads like an MG book, but the main character is 17.  A lot of the romance here felt awkward and forced (that might be why it felt like MG to me...that's how I feel about most hints of romance in MG books). And some of the lines both grossed me out immensely and made me laugh - with gems like "Music creates a bond between us, an intimacy. Like touching her with music instead of fingers."  I just...eww! I could totally get behind everything the author was communicating here...until those last three words. And I felt like that was what a lot of the book was for me.  As a whole this book was a great coming of age novel that deals with all sorts of different issues that comes along with that - relationships with girls and family, choosing what to do when you graduate high school, how transformative music can be.  I can get behind all of that, and these parts were my favourites.  But then there would be something like the line above and it would jerk me out of the story.  I don't want to make this sound like I hated the book, or even really disliked it because I didn't. I think it has a really heart warming story - I definitely teared up in spots (although admittedly that isn't hard to do in my case) and I really ended up caring for the characters.  In fact, I really want to more about what happens when the book ends! As much as the romance didn't work for me as a whole, there is a part towards the end where the main characters really connect through music. It might sound corny, but I have been there, where someone you are performing with can specifically draw something out of you that you couldn't have done on your own.  Music really can just...electrify a relationship.  It's parts like these that I think are really powerful in this book (it's clear the author is a musician) and that really made it for me. 


TL;DR

Overall while I feel like this book can have success with the age group its marketed at, I think it will have more success with a slightly younger group (maybe early high school kids or middle school).  And I think it might be the perfect book for a specific kid and that it might really open things up for them. I just don't think it's as a whole going to hold a lot of interest across a wide audience.

16 comments:

  1. It's so disappointing when a few badly written lines really take you out of a good story. But I'm glad to see people are writing books for kids/teens about the impact that music or theatre or art can have on your life!


    P.S. The Netgalley email would have been so much better if it had actually been written like that!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, over all this was a really good read with some really inspiring things (and obviously dealt with a subject that means a lot to me as far as the arts are involved).

    Clearly I should be hired to send their e-mails :-p

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really like what you decided to do with your list! And I will admit in a very small voice that I am one of the 3 women in America who has never read Little Women. It's on the TBR though. Funny thing about Mists of Avalon - I was very skeptical when started it because I've always loved Arthur and loathed Guinivere so I wasn't sure I was going to like it but I really did. I even tried reading another book or two by her but didn't really like anything else she'd written.

    ReplyDelete
  4. kirstymariejonesstudioreadsJuly 4, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    Haha, really Netgalley? Subtle with your gentle 'reminders'. I haven't gotten any yet, now I'll be stalking my emails. Ugh, I hate ones that seem more MG when it's YA, never mind the MC being 17. I know we're supposed to awkward at that age and all, but nope. And icky romance, Music creates a bond between us, an intimacy. Like touching her with music instead of fingers I may have just thrown up a little in my mouth. Sounds a little, I don't know, just one of those off books, and those are the worst. :(

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm sure it would be worth a reread. I do love Margaret Atwood, I'm sure all her books would be worth a reread. Sorry about not leaving a link, I can never seem to work the Disqus comments.

    My blog is here.

    http://astrongbeliefinwicker.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/top-ten-favourite-1001-childrens-books.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yeah...I felt a little guilty. But hey I've posted at least one review now, so I have another few months before I get another reminder! Yeah, I have a tough time with a lot of MG books, and I recently came to the realization that it's because I actually need a little romance now to not feel strange about a book. It's a bit funny, as I don't usually like that much romance in my books lol. Clearly I'm too picky about romance for my own good. (Well ok those lines really did just....it's just...EW.) But there's also something about the writing in a lot of MG books that...I don't know. I just can't pinpoint it!

    I think this book might have been the author's debut (I could be wrong and I'm too lazy to look it up), but I would definitely be down for checking out her next book. Content wise the book really spoke to me, the writing was just a little awkward at times, and that's something that gets refined further down the line. So I'd definitely be intrigued as to what she does next!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh Netgalley. I have one book I received forever ago that I haven't read yet :/ I should probably get on that soon! Do not want a 'gentle' reminder lol

    I'm sort of curious about this book. I think it might go on my 'maybe' list. It sucks that a bad sentence can be jarring sometimes :( I find I have that problem with some books, like...just let it flow, stop trying to be poetic, it's not working!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yeah...I have like ten books that I was supposed to review and still haven't, so I totally deserved the e-mail haha! Life has just gotten so busy that I haven't had the time to either write the reviews or read the books! But I'm planning on catching up. Someday. Soon hopefully. And in the meantime, no more ARC's for me!

    Yeah, I definitely found the writing distracting...but the overall story was really heartwarming. So it would ordinarily go on a maybe pile for me too haha

    ReplyDelete
  9. Let's do breakfast! I have aflexible enough work schedule that I can make that work. YAY! I'm going to PM you my email address through Goodreads so we can work out the details!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't know how flexible you are on weekdays - she'd suggested we meet on the 11th since they will have already left for the honeymoon, but I have a 1 pm flight so it would probably have to be super early. Or that Saturday miiiight work? I can't remember if I'm supposed to go to her family thing or not haha. In any case I'm so excited!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. YES! I'll try to be as flexible as possible to make it work. I like in Kirkland, but I work at the UW. Sounds like she lives in South Seattle, but that's no worries. She is getting married close to wear I work though. :D I hope this well work out!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've read Rita Mae Brown's cat mystery series (For the life of me I can't remember the name) and I really enjoyed it. Greek gods are always a big selling point for me, so I'm definitely going to check this out! Thanks for the rec!

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's such a great show! I completely credit Kirsty with getting me into it. And I actually picked my roommate partially because he also has records haha!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Might be worth a reread then! Your Disqus doesn't have a link to your blog :-/ - if you stop by again leave a link because I'd love to see what you put on your list!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I really, really love 1984 as well!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I wonder if her readers at the time were as upset as all the modern readers about that pairing haha!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for leaving a comment! You've totally made my day :D

I love talking to you guys, so I always respond to comments. Be sure to check back!