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.
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.
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.