The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen
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The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  879 ratings  ·  239 reviews
Darker than her previous novels, Susin peoples this novel about the ultimate cost of bullying with a cast of fabulous characters, dark humour, and a lovable, difficult protagonist struggling to come to terms with the horrible crime his brother has committed.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Tundra Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,711)
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Monica!
So I met Susin Nielsen a few months ago, friends, and quickly realized she was possibly the nicest lady in the history of the world. I called my mom afterwards from the conference hotel room, babbling and over-caffeinated, very much “and then she signed my book, and then she posed for a picture with me while I was holding an alligator, and then we went to a brewery and swapped pizza slices and she commiserated with me about having Swedish in-laws, and then she invited us all to visit her and obv...more
Michelle (FabBookReviews)
I don't know how she does it.

The 'she' of course refers to Nielsen, author of Word Nerd, Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom, and now The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen. Three consecutively published middle-grade/YA novels I have loved, each one beautifully written, with diverse narrators dealing with consequential subject matters. The Reluctant Journal...is a departure- of sorts- for Nielsen. It is, without a doubt, darker and more uncomfortable than her previous works. The novel dea...more
Vikki VanSickle
Henry is my favourite Nielsen protagonist yet. He manages to be sweet and vulnerable without being cloying or un-relatable. Sometimes I worry that male readers don’t gravitate towards sensitive male narrators, but that won’t be an issue here. Henry is too specific to be an “everykid” (thank goodness), but Nielsen has given him lots of traits and worries and interests that will endear him to a wide range of readers.

His grieving process is handled carefully. Henry has moments of anger, fear, regre...more
Ellen
Henry K. Larsen’s therapist has suggested that he write down his thoughts and feelings. Like any teenage boy, Henry does so reluctantly. Hence the title.

There are three things I especially like about this book:

1. Suspense: The author uses progressive revelation, doing out little by little what is at the heart of Henry’s troubles. His whole life has changed because of IT, and we read to find out what IT is. (If you read the book jacket, you find out it has something to do with his older brother p...more
Pamela ☼where's my aspirin☼ Tee
Wow. Just wow. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen was nothing like what I was expecting. The book description was something along the lines of "Susin peoples this novel about the ultimate cost of bullying with a cast of fabulous characters, dark humour, and a lovable, difficult protagonist struggling to come to terms with the horrible crime his brother has committed."

Okay. I can deal with some dark humor. Especially when I look at the cover. Doesn't it look light-hearted? I was expecting s...more
Rose Ann
So much to say about this book!
Will write it all up in the next day or two.

A day or two has come and gone. I have not stopped thinking about this book, and how I wanted to put into words how much I loved it.

Honestly, in my own ignorance, I have never really thought much about the families of the shooter, when I hear of these things on the news. I have felt for the shooter in some cases, but never really thought about their families. Always the victims' families. But they are victims also, aren't...more
Midnight Bloom
After completely falling in love with Susin Nielsen's Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom a couple of years ago, I couldn't contain my excitement when I got my hands on her new novel. I wasn't too sure what to make of the rather obscure book cover at first, but the premise immediately reeled me in and I couldn't tear my eyes away from its compelling pages. The cover really does make much more sense once you begin reading the novel, tying into aspects about Henry's life really well...

In the...more
William Stanger
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is a wonderful book. Once I started reading it I really did find it hard to put down. As may be deduced from the title, the book is the story of Henry K. Larsen written in the style of a personal journal. The reluctance to write the journal is revealed in the story, but it would spoil it to give it away here.

The story is set mainly in British Columbia, with a little bit of Ontario thrown in. I have never read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books so I'm not sure...more
Aylee
In short: The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen was a wholly enjoyable read with a very important message.


What a lovely, quick read this was! I'm not really sure what I had been expecting of The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen - perhaps just a nice and moral story about bullying - but I had no idea of the depth of the subject matter, nor that I would end up enjoying it so much! Susin Nielsen manages to create a perfect balance of serious and poignant subject matter and c...more
Alexis
Dec 15, 2012 Alexis rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
This was a weird book to read after the shooting in Connecticut, because it deals with the aftermath of bullying and a shooting.

However, this book is amazing. My favourite category of book is funny/sad, and this fits the bill. It's the journal of a 13-year-old who has to deal with the death of his older brother. It's about his grief and how he tries to deal with rebuilding his life. I laughed and I teared up.

This is a beautiful well-written book about a family trying to cope. It was realistic,...more
Jenny
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen is a dark yet hilarious novel about 13 year old Henry who is still trying to come to terms with the death of his brother Jesse and the awful thing that Jesse did. This book addresses topics like suicide, grief, depression, mental health and bullying.
I loved how this book managed to be so funny while talking about such dark topics. This is mainly due to Henry, the main character. Henry is bitter and angry, a sarcastic and stubborn kid who at first, refuses...more
Meaghan
I got this book free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

This is an excellent depiction of a boy and his family family, ripped apart at the seams by violence and tragedy, and how they begin to stitch themselves back together again. The protagonist, 13-year-old Henry, began his diary at the request of his therapist. Although reluctant to write at first (hence the title), Henry came to depend on his journal as a confidant to help him deal with his pain and grief. The characterization of this boy and...more
Bailey
I bought this book recently and, having nothing to do today, I picked it up to read a couple pages - and I was hooked! Right from the lead I wanted to know more. By 11 o'clock tonight, I had finished all 243 pages and I knew I had to write a review. The book is about a boy named Henry, who lives with his father in an apartment that they moved into after his brother died and his mother was admitted to a psych ward. I definitely was not expecting the book to have as much of a dark theme as it did,...more
Bae ɦɛʀօռɖǟʟɛ ֆɦǟա {ɨ'ɖ ʀǟȶɦɛʀ աǟʟȶʐ ȶɦǟռ ʝʊֆȶ աǟʟӄ ȶɦʀօʊɢɦ ȶɦɛ ʄօʀɛֆȶ}
Susin Nielson yet again astounds her fans with her new novel about the harrowing journey a young teenager has to undergo after disaster hits him and his family. When Henry's older brother Jesse commits a terrible crime, and then takes his own life, Henry's family is thrown into depression. His mother is sent off to a mental institute, and his father falls into bankruptcy. The life Henry once knew is shattered into a million pieces. Now, as Henry tries to pick up the broken pieces, history threat...more
Colleen
Wow, I honestly don't have the words right now for how much love I have for this book.
Arminzerella
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathy
I don't know how many people judge a book by its cover but I have to say that I was not going to read this book because of its cover. It did not appeal to me at all. Then, the book was up for contention for our Battle of the Books so I decided to read it. Thank goodness I did.

Henry K. Larsen has moved away from his family home to live in a cramped apartment with his father. His mother is living with her parents while she sorts some things out. Henry is seeing a therapist to deal with "IT". In o...more
Heidi
Henry and his dad have moved to a new town in Canada following a family tragedy. His counselor recommends he keep a journal and although journalling is not his cup of tea, Henry details his feelings with honesty, humor, and warmth. Through the journal, we learn about the bullying Henry observed being directed at his older brother, the day his brother shot the bully and then himself, the mental breakdown which means his mom is in a psych ward, and Henry's hopes that the future will work out bette...more
Rachel Hartman
Once again, I am utterly charmed by Nielsen's voice and how her characters are so completely themselves. This one deals with a much more serious (and topical) subject than Word Nerd did: bullying, and its most horrifying aftermath. Our protagonist's brother, after enduring years of abuse (some of which is described in graphic, disturbing detail), does the... well, it's not the unthinkable anymore. I wish so hard it were unthinkable, but these kinds of incidents happen and keep happening, which m...more
Christa  Seeley
This review originally posted at More Than Just Magic

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen was not the book I expected it to be. I had another copy of a Susin Nielsen book - Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom - before received this one and judging from it’s synopsis and her creative titles, I thought I was in for a nice light read, and maybe a few laughs.

A did get few laughs but a “nice light read”? Not even close.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a criticism. If it had been the book I expe...more
Giselle at BO-OK NERD Canada
What happens to a family after there’s been a suicide in the family? Life goes on and in this case Henry Larsen is trying to live life in the best way he knows how after his brother’s death. When it’s his turn to go to high school, and his friend becomes the victim of another bully, will he stand up and fight?

Henry’s angry most of the time but there’s also a lot of good memories thrown in. He’s a little pudgy, clumsy, and loves watching wresting on TV. Yet he has a great friend Farley who is des...more
Lina
Jan 18, 2013 Lina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya, youth
Henry is a 13 year-old boy who loves wrestling, trivia and uses food as a coping mechanism. He is also a boy with a secret, one that gives him nightmares and threatens to break up his family. His journal is reluctant because his therapist is the one that suggested it. Henry, like any red-blood 13 year old, resents having to see a therapist, resents anyone who tries to bring up the reason why they moved in the first place. He wants to forget IT ever happened. When he is befriended by the kid who...more
Andrea (Cozy Up With A Good Read)
This review and others can be found on Cozy Up With A Good Read

This book ended up surprising me in so many different ways. I was expecting to go into a story about bullying, but there was so much more emotion to it. I found that this was so much more than just a little story. It is so hard to put all my thoughts into words (I'll try my best), I can't stop thinking about everything that happens in this book. The book was beautiful and was a quick read, but there were quite a few points that I had...more
Barbara
Thirteen-year-old Henry K. Larsen has recently moved from one small town to another after his brother shot the boy that had been systematically bullying him for years and then committed suicide. Henry's therapist suggests that he keep a journal to record his thoughts as he deals with the aftermath of these tragic events. Henry has anger management issues and is also trying to understand why his mother is in therapy and seems reluctant to move back in with Henry and his father. Since Henry has le...more
Arwen
Read this all in one evening when I knew that the light should go off. It deals with extraordinary violence and a broken family, and yet manages to be real, human, and funny. It takes very deft hand to pull that off. In this, Nielsen reminded me of Koningsburg. She created a frank, real, imperfect protagonist that I fell in love with.

This is a five star book, if done just on craft alone, but I must admit that I don't make a great audience anymore. So to me, based only on my enjoyment, I'm going...more
Gabrielle Prendergast
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, before the family is awake. 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 suggests he keep a journal to record his thoughts and feelings, he is resistant. But, soon, he confides in it at all hours of the day and night.

In spite of...more
Elvina Barclay
Henry K. Larsen is a thirteen year old boy, living with his father in a new city where they have moved to escape after “IT” happened. Henry’s mother is not living with them and now Henry is left to copy with what happened pretty much on his own. He is reluctant to make any new friends at school or in his apartment building, he doesn’t want anyone to know what happened. His therapist gives him a notebook to keep a journal in. Henry is reluctant at first but gradually starts to open up about “IT”...more
Jeffrey
While I certainly enjoyed Nielsen's earlier novel, Word Nerd, which I reviewed for Children's Book News, I wasn't prepared for this book at all - fantastic! It's a hard book to talk about because the focus of the novel is so key to what happens and telling you what it is would spoil it but let's just say that Nielsen handles trauma brilliantly - I loved Henry K Larsen and his friendships with his nerdy friends Farley and Alberta and his desperate-to-try-to-hold-things-together dad (and his ok mo...more
Christina
In the wake of a family tragedy, thirteen year old Henry has moved to a new town, and started a new high school, hoping to start over where no one knows his family's history. His therapist gives him a notebook to record journal entries, and although Henry is at first reluctant, he begins to share his innermost thoughts and feelings in the journal, as he tries to cope with the turmoil his life has become. His older brother is dead, after something horrible happened that Henry only reveals in smal...more
Audrey
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen was one of those books that I thought I’d try out on a whim, and I wound up getting sucked in and absolutely loving it. Written as entries in a therapy journal by 13 year old Henry, the pages drip with honesty and humor. Henry’s family has fallen apart since his brother did something utterly heinous a year earlier (you’ll need to read to know what that is), and now his mother is in a psych ward and Henry and his father have relocated to a new area, seekin...more
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Kent District Lib...: Michigan Thumbs Up - Teen 2013 5 22 Dec 17, 2013 08:45AM  
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Susin got her start feeding cast and crew on the popular television series, Degrassi Junior High. They hated her food, but they saw a spark in her writing. Nielsen went on to pen sixteen episodes of the hit TV show. Since then, Nielsen has written for over 20 Canadian TV series. Her first young adult novel, Word Nerd, was published in 2008 to critical acclaim. It won multiple Young Readers’ Choice...more
More about Susin Nielsen...
Word Nerd Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom The Magic Beads Snake (Degrassi Junior High) Melanie

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