Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen

Henry and his father have just moved to a new town after IT happened.  Henry's counselor has asked him to keep a journal which he is doing reluctantly (hence, the title).  Starting at his new schoolHenry finds himself on the outside because of his weight which has gone up since IT happened, and because the geekiest kid in school immediately latches onto him.  Despite his misgivings he finds that he has a lot in common with his new friend including the fact that they both love professional wrestling although they root for different people.  Henry is also drafted into the school's academic quiz team where he makes other friends and meets an unusual and intriguing girl.  But as Henry chronicles what's happening at school he also reveals his past and what led to him being in counseling.  His older brother was bullied so badly that he shot the bully and killed himself and Henry has some guilt about what happened before that horrible event.  This is a powerful book that really gets into some of the thornier issues about bullying such as survivor's guilt and the impact on family members.  The cover, however, is one of the worst ever!  It makes the book appear to be akin to Diary of a Wimpy Kid so someone is going to get a rude surprise when choosing this title.