February 28, 2013

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead + Author Guest Post + Giveaway

Being Henry David
Title: Being Henry David
Author: Cal Armistead
Series: N/A
Source: Publisher for blog tour
Publisher: Albert Whitman & CO
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Goodreads||The Book Depository
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.
Being Henry David was everything I expected and more-- what I expected was a book about a boy with amnesia finding himself. I got that-- but I also got to read about some awesomely gritty teenagers with real problems and small solutions, which was like the epitome of cool.

Speaking of which, Hank was a great believable character. He completely made the book, because I didn't have any problems believing that he didn't know who he was or where he'd been. I did kind of have issues with the beginning, though, because we kind of just get thrust into Hank's life with the scene where he wakes up and doesn't remember who he is. Don't get me wrong, it was a great way to start things, but it was kind of abrupt.

But that didn't detract from my enjoyment of Being Henry David. I still enjoyed the mystery of Hank's identity, and I also really liked most of the secondary characters, like Jack, Nessa, and my favorite forever, Thomas. (Who's like thirty, but I don't care. He's awesomesauce.)

I'm having a really hard time writing out my thoughts for this, but I hope that I'm getting at least some of my point across. I loved Being Henry David!! But I can't help but wonder if Hank was a little bit crazy...I mean, the boy has conversations with Thoreau. Who is long dead, which makes their convos a tad freaky deaky, but I'll not dwell on that.

All in all, Being Henry David was a fabulous debut with an awesome premise, but I have reviewers block and am unable to get my point across today...sigh.
If I decide to live, all I have waiting for me is a broken family and no idea of what to do with the rest of my life. What do I do with that? ~ Pg. 297
Cal has been a writer since age 9, when she submitted her first book, The Poor Macaroni Named Joany to a publisher. Sadly, this literary gem did not make it to print. But Cal continued pursuing her lifelong passion, and wrote copiously for radio, newspapers and magazines (Cal has been published in The Chicago Tribune, Shape Magazine, Body & Soul Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Chicken Soup for Every Mom’s Soul and others). Although it took years for Cal to try her hand again at fiction writing, her first young adult novel (Being Henry David) will be published by Albert Whitman & Co. on March 1, 2013.
Guest Post:

Writer as Rock Star, or Recluse?
by Cal Armistead

The Book Babe was kind enough to allow me to choose my own topic for this guest blog (thanks so much for hosting me!), so after some thought, I decided to write about something I’ve been mulling over lately: being in the public eye.  Let me say first: it is truly bizarre.  Not that I’m shy or anything—I mean, I was the lead singer in a blues/rock band for over six years and had an absolute blast being front-and-center and strutting my stuff.  But writing?  It’s that thing I do alone that occurs inside my own head, and nobody’s watching while I do it because—well, lets face it—the process would be incredibly boring to observe.

But now that I have published a book, people actually want to meet me, to have me do public appearances, to talk about my book and the writing process behind it. On one level I totally get it, because I’m always interested to learn about writers whose work I admire, but perhaps this is strange to me because I was a journalist for so many years.  In the realm of newspaper and magazine articles, the writer stays the hell out of the way and focuses on the subject of the story.  You’re supposed to be invisible. Sure, you get a byline, and that’s always a thrill, but it’s all you strive for, all you get.   This, I think, is why I’m a little weirded out by the idea of being in the public eye.  In fact, when my publishers told me they wanted an author photo of me for the book jacket, I said, “Really?  Do I have to?”  I have a perfectly good headshot that looks way better than I normally look when I’m writing, but the idea of having my photo on my book was strange to me.  I opted not to have one. 

I think it comes down to this: I view the relationship between a book and its reader to be absolutely sacred. It’s an intimate and personal experience, and the writer doesn’t matter.  Plus, how many times have you looked at the picture of an author you admire, and said to yourself, “Really? I never expected him/her to look like that!”  (And in my case, people might be surprised to see that I am of the female persuasion, in spite of my male-sounding name.)  I’d absolutely hate it if anyone looked at my photo and was disappointed.

To sum up, I’m not about to turn into a J.D. Salinger-type recluse because I’m way too social, way too much of an extrovert and, okay I won’t lie, some of this attention is really fun.  But what I want most of all is just for people to read the book and forge their own unique relationships with its characters, within its world.  That’s the most important thing of all.  

Thanks for allowing me to stop by today!

Check out the next tour stop:
Friday, March 1
Mimosa Stimulus Reviews
Interview and Giveaway

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  1. Glad he was a believable character. I love the premise of the boy with anmesia finding himself, and I am glad that it delivered.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

    1. He was! Haha, I loved the premise too-- it was probably my favorite part. (:

  2. ah - talking to dead people - i can't help but be intrigued by that! Sounds like you really enjoyed this one ☺

    1. Haha, yeah. It was very interesting! And I did really, really like it! :D

  3. Really great review Megan and I love when characters are believable and a book delivers more then we expected. Thank you for commenting on my blog today, for some reason it didn't appear on my blog through Disqus, so I was unable to comment back. Thank you and I am now following your delightful blog. I look forward to chatting with you about awesome books!

    1. Thanks, sweetie! I really do too, because I find that a lot of the time I build myself up too much, you know what I mean? You're welcome! That's really strange...but I didn't notice disqus, so I kind of bet it was my fault. LOL. I look forward to talking you about rocking books too! :D

  4. I need to check this one out. I love contemporary YA, love books with a guy narrator, and even love Thoreau!
    Thanks for a great review.

    1. If you like all of those things you should totally check it out! (: Thank you!

  5. "Reviewer's block" = awesome. I didn't have a name for that awful feeling, now I do! I wanted to read this book, I had it on a list somewhere. Glad I read your review on it. I need to pick it up soon!

    1. Aww, thanks sweetie! I'm glad that I'm not the only one who feels it. Haha, I have lists too, but I just got lucky! You should, I would totally read your review on it! :D

  6. I love when you enjoy a book so much you can't put that feeling into words. It's a great feeling! =)

    1. It is but it isn't-- I like having something to say! *le gasp*

  7. Oh my goodness - I get reviewer's block, too! Even though you think you suffered from it here, I have to disagree. I love your review, and you most definitely convinced me to read this one. Thanks so much for the great post and giveaway - and for stopping by and visiting me today :) Hope you'll get to read Easy soon and share your thoughts with me. Happy Reading :D

    1. Yay! Now we can have a club, because I've found more people with reviewer's block!! :D Aww, thank you. You're welcome! I'm glad that the author wrote that up, because I absolutely loved it too! You're absolutely welcome, I loved your review on Easy! I hope I get to read it soon! :D