Sunday, March 3, 2013
Being Henry David (review)
When "Hank" wakes up in Penn Station he has no memory of who he is or where he comes from. All he has is an old copy of Walden Pond by Henry David Thoreau. So when someone asks his name, for lack of anything better he calls himself Henry David (before eventually shortening it to Hank).
The first half of this Being Henry David (Goodreads | Amazon) is quite compelling. While trying to put the pieces of his life together, Hank finds himself adopted by some street kids and brought into a crime ring before running away to go on a pilgrimage to Walden Pond. His struggles with "Who am I" and "Am I a monster" are very readable and I enjoyed trying to put together the pieces alongside Hank.
However the second half of this book is considerably less enjoyable. Once Hank has arrived in Concord he immediately meets a pretty girl named Hailey. The story goes from intriguing to mundane in record time, as the book stops focusing on Hank finding his identity and switches into a story about him and Hailey entering a Battle of the Bands. Yes the search is still going, but the amount of word-count spent on that decreases while the battle of the bands and relationship subplot takes over.
Then when everything is revealed it's not nearly as satisfying or mysterious as it should be. I was left thinking "Really? That's who he is and how he ended up on the streets?" I don't find his backstory quite believable. Where the reveal should pack a punch it's more of a whimper.
I received an advance reading copy via netgalley for reviewing purposes.