The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsenby Susin Nielsen
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.
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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 they? I just loved the writing, the characters, the story....all of it. Henry K. Larsen.....what a brave, strong character. Love him! I am sure I could add more, I just can't figure out how to put it all into words.
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 better for himself. Henry joins a team of nerdy students competing for academic honors, despite his better judgement; his new best friend is a gem. Adults and teens should read this book to remember that the family members left behind after such a tragedy are coping the best they can, be that with humor or withdrawal or behavior not previously seen. The wrestler in the cover illustration has put off potential readers in my middle school library so I'm going to work harder to get this wonderful book in the hands of my students. Highly recommended.