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"The whole world opened to me when I learned to read." More
Summary: Pennsylvania Station, New York City. A 17-year-old boy wakes up not knowing how he got here or who he is. His only possessions: a $10 bill and a copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Everything happens fast in New York, and before long, "Henry David" (aka Hank) falls in with some runaways. Bad things keep happening, and Hank realizes time is running out. He makes his way to Concord, Massachusetts, hoping that by retracing Thoreau's journey he will uncover his own. This young adult novel weaves Thoreau's philosophy and writings into the life of a modern story. Older readers who struggle with reading will find this an age-appropriate story. This is a High Interest / Low Readability option.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book, remedial reader
Recommended Age: read together: 13 and Up; read yourself: 13 and Up
Interest Level: 12 and Up
Reading Level: 5
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: Amazing. Heart wrenching AND heart warming. Hank's voice is crystal clear, and his life becomes part of yours. There were a few things that I thought were over the top - some of the NYC scenes and Jack and Nessa finding him in Concord, but not so much that it took away from the power of the story. Jack and Nessa add a harsh reality to the story that complements Hank's challenges.
Pros: Once you start reading, you'll lose your heart to Jack, Nessa, and Hank and want to keep reading until the end. Or is it the beginning?
Cons: This is realistic fiction. Violence, drugs, drug addiction, and abuse are part of the plot.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. Yes, it is fiction, but it can open some frank, realistic conversations with teens. For young people dealing with traumatic change or loss, Hank could become a very good friend.
Educational Themes: Hank, Nessa, and Jack (among others) are characters worth talking about. There is a TON to explore in this book.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - family, Young Adult, death and loss, realistic fiction
Date(s) Reviewed: December 2015
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.