“Being Henry David”—A Book Review

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Being Henry David by Cal Armistead is a remarkable tale, to say the least! This coming-of-age novel asks the difficult question most of us have trouble answering:  Who am I?

“Hank” is a teenage boy that wakes up at Penn Station with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. He has absolutely no memories from his past—his mind a completely blank slate. Hanks only possessions are the clothes he is wearing, a crumpled up ten dollar bill in his pocket, and a beat up copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden.

“Absolutely nothing in my life is familiar, and it’s like standing on the edge of a cliff every damn minute, rocks crumbling under my feet.”

With the worn out paperback as his only lead, Hank heads out for the most sensible destination, Walden Pond in Concord Massachusetts. Hopefully the serenity and simplicity of “going back to the basics” will help jog his memory of who he is and where he comes from. But the question is, does he really want to know about his past demons?   

“There’s a black beast inside me that doesn’t want me to know stuff. It guards my memory, clawing at my insides and going for my throat if I get too close.”

Finding friends and a sense of safety in the most unlikely places and faces, Henry must learn to face his past and unlock his memories without shattering himself in the process.

All I can say about Being Henry David is “wow”.  I literally could not put this book down. Though provoking and insightful, this novel challenges you to look inside yourself and challenge yourself to face your own demons.

Five out of five stars! I look forward to any future novels from Cal Armistead

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“Before You Go” –A Book Review

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Before You Go by James Preller, is a quick, but profound read. At 208 pages, I made it through this book in a few hours, but don’t let the size fool you about its might (pun not intended).

The summer before Jude’s senior year in high school, he takes a crappy summer job on the boardwalk flipping burgers. But anything is better than being stuck inside the house all day with an emotionally unavailable, pill-popping mother.

His little sister drowned in the backyard swimming pool seven years ago, when Jude was supposed to be watching her, and he has never been able to let go of the guilt. But the thing is, Jude was just a kid himself. Ever since that catastrophic summer, the only person Jude has ever really opened up to is his best friend, Corey.

When Becka starts working at the beachside concession stand with him, he is immediately enthralled by her. Because of how closed off Jude is, he keeps Becka at a safe distance, while somehow managing to pull her in at the same time. With the encouragement of his best friend and co-worker, Jude finally decides to go for it with Becka, and learning that they both play guitar and are passionate about the same music, it doesn’t take long for these two teens to hit it off.

But as it often does with life, just when things begin to look up, tragedy strikes again. As Jude struggles to stay afloat, he must decide if letting yourself love someone is worth the risk of a broken heart.

All in all I would have to give this book 3 ½ out of 5 stars. The narration was a bit weak at times, but I believe this book is worth the read. It doesn’t take long to finish, and the overall messages you take away will resonate within your heart. James Preller had me analyzing the important things in my life and asking myself, “Is it worth the risks?”

 

”Jude couldn’t locate the name for this feeling, the string of a child’s helium balloon slipping through his fingers, this sense of floating skyward, knew only a boy’s confusion and thrill and desire, the heart’s thrup and thrum. Kiss me again and again until all the stars crowd the sky like scattered salt on black rock. He pressed into her again, his heart on her lips.”