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 wake of a terrible moment which shatters the Larsen family apart, Henry reluctantly begins to confide his thoughts in a journal his therapist gives him. Henry puts up a good front with his sarcastic remarks, but he's really a lonely boy who's still struggling to come to terms with his older brother's actions and trying to return to some semblance of normality after "IT". The subject matter may be the darkest of Susin Nielsen's novels yet, but there's a refreshing honesty in her storytelling that is also humorous and absolutely heartwarming.
Bullying has affected Henry's life in so many ways, yet even when he feels angry at the world, there's still a certain innocence and charm about this thirteen year-old boy that just makes you smile and also hope he never loses it. With the help of his new school friends, Farley and Alberta, and some well-meaning neighbours at his new home, Henry slowly overcomes his grief and learns to open himself up to others again.
With a quirky cast of characters and a thought-provoking storyline, Susin Nielsen's latest novel is a gem you don't want to miss. If you have ever been bullied in your life, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen will especially strike a chord within your heart. I was completely touched and moved to tears at times, yet smiling like crazy at other moments, a feat I'm not sure how Susin Nielsen manages, but she truly does!
I laughed. I cried. Susin Nielsen's The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is an absolute must-read for everyone.