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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

Author: Susin Nielsen
Originally Published: 2012
Publisher: Tundra Books, a Division of Random House of Canada
Source: Received at Ontario Blog Squad Meetup 2012

The Story

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen.jpgFrom the inside cover flap:

Thirteen-year-old Henry’s happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father’s hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry’s family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry’s therapist suggest he keep a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night.

In spite of Henry’s desire to “fly under the radar,” he eventually befriends a number of oddball characters, both at school and in his modest apartment building. And even though they know nothing about his past – at least, not yet – they help him navigate the waters of life after “IT.”

Susin Nielsen has created a fantastic new character in Henry, whose journal entries are infused with humor and provide a riveting read about a family in turmoil.

The Response

A bunch of Nielsen’s titles have jumped out at me and said “Hey! Read me!” but this is the first one that I’ve yet to cross off the TBR list. And oh, I absolutely cannot wait to read some of her other titles now.

This was such an amazing novel – it was funny, it was heartbreaking, it was charming and it was utterly loveable. The characters – both main and supporting – are so relatable and real that it is hard not to get invested in this book and in Henry’s story.

I say this almost every time I read a book written in diary or letter format, but I often have a hard time really getting into and really loving novels written in epistolary form. When they work well, they can be amazing, but it seems like it is so much harder to make it work well. It’s similar to first-person narratives for me… I typically dislike hearing a story only from the main character’s point of view because you never know how truthful they are, don’t know how much they are really telling you… But when it works, it can be amazing and enchanting, which is exactly what this ended up being.

I just positively loved how Nielsen made this whole story so real. You can feel the pain all the characters are going through, and you can completely understand why they decide to do what they do (even when you don’t agree with what they do). To take a subject like this, and to put the reader in the position that Henry finds himself and his family, is rather brave and I am thoroughly impressed with how Neilsen handled everything. It gives an amazing perspective that we perhaps don’t see nearly enough, and is something we should remember when we start blaming the families of people who do horrible things…

I will fully admit that this book brought tears to my eyes. It was lovely and I really don’t have anything bad to say about this book at all. While a book aimed at young adult readers, I have a feeling that it is something that almost any age group could appreciate and enjoy.

The Bottom Line

This was such a wonderful book! I highly recommend it.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 11:41 am February 22, 2013.
Category: Young Adult
Book Author(s):
Publisher(s): ,

  • Aarti

    Wow, this sounds lovely! I’ve never heard of the book or the author, so thanks for bringing it to my attention :-)