Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen

When I first looked at the book cover for this novel, I thought to myself, “This is going to be a fun, carefree book to read. It is probably about super heroes because there is a muscular looking cartoon character on the front.”
Surprisingly, I found this book to be quite a serious look at what happens to a family after one of its sons kills a fellow student who has relentlessly bullied him for years at his high school and then turns the gun on himself leading to his own suicide. I recommend this title to mature readers only.
Henry K. Larsen and his father have moved across Canada after Jesse killed Scott and then himself. They hope to start their lives fresh. Henry’s mother has had a nervous breakdown following the tragedy which has ravaged their family. She has been hospitalized near where the IT took place. (IT is how Henry refers to the tragedy.) Henry has been instructed by his grief counselor to keep a journal—thus the title of the book—The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen.
Despite Henry’s resistance to keep the journal, he eventually expands on his entries. This is how the reader comes to know the angst that he and his whole family are suffering.
The funny, muscular cartoon character on the book jacket is due to Henry’s family’s fascination with the wrestling world on television.
Readers who want to understand the deep emotional toll and what happens to the remaining family members after a horrific school shooting death and subsequent suicide will gain much by reading this title.

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