Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Armistead's debut might oversell its Thoreauvian connections, but the core story of an amnesiac boy and his quest for identity stands on its own. When 'Henry David' wakes up in Penn Station, he has no clue who he is; since his only possession is a copy of Walden, he takes the author's name as his own. After falling in with a pair of homeless teens who nickname him Hank and being threatened by a crime boss, the 17-year-old decides he's safer outside the city and heads to Concord, Mass., to see if Thoreau's life can offer him answers. There, he meets an attractive high schooler named Hailey and a heavily tattooed librarian named Thomas, both of whom help Hank as his memories slowly come back. Armistead can go over the top at times her New York City is almost cartoonishly violent and one-dimensional but Hank's personal tragedies are touching, as are his interactions with everyone from street kids Jack and Nessa to the more sedate citizens of Concord. His quests for answers and redemption should easily engage readers. Ages 13 up." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Even those with little interest in Thoreau will find this a solid psychological mystery about a teen who's made a mistake that he can't keep running from." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April 1, 2013
"Think James Dashner's Maze Runner series meets High School Musical: an engaging and unique book." Booklist, March 1, 2013
"Introspective high schoolers will appreciate this engimatic coming-of-age story." School Library Journal, March 2013
"This compelling, suspenseful debut, a tough-love riff on guilt, forgiveness and redemption, asks hard questions to which there are no easy answers." Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2013
"Cal Armistead's story of Hank is not only an English teacher's dream. . .it's also a clever look at identity and who we are without our baggage." The Boston Globe, March 30, 2013
". . .Hank's personal tragedies are touching, as are his interactions with everyone from street kids Jack and Nessa to the more sedate citizens of Concord. His quests for answers and redemption should easily engage readers." Publishers Weekly, January 28, 2013
Seventeen-year-old "Hank," who can't remember his identity, finds himself in Penn Station with a copy of Thoreau's Walden as his only possession and must figure out where he's from and why he ran away.
About the Author
Cal Armistead is a musician, singer, voice actress and independent bookseller in Massachusetts. She lives in Concord with her husband. This is her first novel.