My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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 how this compares, but I can imagine that this is a more mature and gritty Canadian-style story, aimed at teens, tackling the very serious issue of bullying and the consequences that could grow from bullying that spirals out of control.
Even with the serious issue at the centre of the story, this is a very humorous and enjoyable read. You have to love and also have sympathy for the central character. Due to the ‘IT’ event that Henry writes about, he and his family have had to relocate to a new home, new school, and a new job for his father. His mother has not yet joined them in their new home and this brings added stress to the situation. Some new and interesting people come into his life – both at his new school and in the apartment building they have had to move into. Some of these people are the ones he becomes closest to in the end, even though at first he perhaps didn’t want to know them or open up to them.
There are moments that bring you close to tears and there are some really funny laugh out loud moments, especially in some of the jokes that Henry shares with his psychiatrist.
Although the book has a quite satisfactory ending, the characters still have things to work out as they move forward with their life. I have no idea if there are plans for another installment or not, but I would welcome another journal of Henry K. Larsen just to see where some of the relationships go. However, I don’t think it would be so reluctant a journal and perhaps we are best left with this one.
This is a book that I’d readily recommend. I know that my family will enjoy it at some time. There is a lot that can be learned from it, especially in the way that bullying either is or is not dealt with in the story.
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is published by Tundra Books and will be released on 11 September 2012. The author, Susin Nielsen, is the award winning writer of such books as Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom and Word Nerd
DISCLAIMER – I received this book for review as an ARC galley from NetGalley. This in no way influenced my review.