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The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen Hardcover – Sep 11 2012

3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tundra Books (Sept. 11 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770493727
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770493728
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.2 x 19 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #114,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Winner - Governor General's Award - Children's Literature (2012)
FINALIST, BC Book Prizes’ Sheila A. Egoff  Children’s Literature Prize 

 “The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen is an engaging grief story. Thought-provoking and relevant, it addresses the effects of bullying in a realistic, compelling and compassionate way, exemplifying the adage ‘There are two sides to every story.’ Henry’s journey is moving and weirdly, wildly funny.”
Jury’s Citation, Governor General’s Literary Award in Children’s Text

“…Words and writing are often a salvation in Nielsen’s YA fiction. Henry is forced to keep a journal by his therapist; he is at first reluctant, then obsessive about it. A born diarist, he exhibits the idiosyncratic voice of a memoirist, one keenly interested in documenting both his inner and outer worlds. He captures both with humour and heart…. Yet the novel is a dramedy, and believably balances lightness and darkness. It is a shame when the reader must put down the journal and say goodbye to Henry.”
The National Post

“…A realistic, poignant portrait of one teen who overcomes nearly unbearable feelings of grief and guilt.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Nielsen treats a heavy subject with a light, optimistic touch, and while Henry’s passion and distress are evident, his wacky commitment to ‘Saturday Night Smash-up’ and his own ironic, yet earnest, perspective leavens the serious subject matter.”
The Toronto Star

“…Henry’s is a tough story to read and I can only imagine how hard it was to write it. But it’s one that really needs to be heard. And honestly, I couldn’t have pictured anyone but Nielsen telling it.”
Lavender Lines

Beautiful and thought provoking The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is filled with lessons, heartache, pain, anger, family and friendship. Wonderfully done….”
Book Nerd

 “…a highly emotional story about a family that blames one another, and themselves, for an unimaginable tragedy. Nielsen’s balance of humor and pathos is finely honed, making this a surprisingly breezy read for so heavy a topic.”

“…With fully developed adult and child characters and a solid sense of middle school humor, the author has crafted an insightful and nuanced novel about bullying and suicide, and familial love and resilience.”
—Starred, School Library Journal

About the Author

SUSIN NIELSEN got her start writing a spec script for the popular television series Degrassi Junior High. She went on to pen sixteen episodes of the hit television show and four of the Degrassi books. Since then, she has received two Canadian Screenwriter Awards and a Gemini Award and has written for many home-grown TV series. Her novel Word Nerd, published to much critical acclaim, was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children's Book Award and won the Red Maple, Rocky Mountain, Willow, and Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Awards. This was soon followed by the hilarious and heartwarming Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom, which has received rave reviews and has already been translated into French, Portuguese and German. Susin Nielsen lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christina on Oct. 9 2012
Format: Hardcover
I made the mistake of 'judging a book by it's cover'. I mean, with that cover, how dark can it be, right?!

This book is dark and touching and real and absolutely beautifully written. It's one of those that stays with your for weeks after you finish reading it.

You can see that the blurb tells you pretty much nothing about this book, and I'm sticking with that idea. You'll find zero spoilers here!

What I CAN tell you is that Henry is a wonderful character, the book WILL make you sad and angry, but it DOES have a hopeful ending.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is a short, quick book, but it doesn't lack substance like many short books can.

I highly recommend this book to all kids over age 12, and to ALL parents and educators.
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By Lisa Irwin on Dec 29 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great novel that my students really enjoy!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amy Townsend on Nov. 1 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was fairly realistic exactly what you would expect someone dealing with that circumstance to do. My only real problem was the end felt really rushed. It was almost like the first 200 or so pages were great, then the author got tired of writing and figured it was time to end everything. That's me being incredibly opinionated though. Overall though I would still recommend it to others. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it was far from the worst.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5 Stars With a Caveat Sept. 27 2012
By E. Kennen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
For 13-year-old Henry Larsen, the move was supposed to be a fresh start. But with his parents broke and barely talking to each other, his psychologist a dweeb, and the least popular kid at his new school the only one angling to be his friend, things are not looking up. But none of that compares to the ever-present specter of IT - the event so horrible that it causes Henry to overeat, go into robot mode, and fly into furies. How can things ever get better when your world's been turned upside down?

Author Susin Nielsen's unflinchingly realistic book gripped me with dread early on, a feeling that did not dissipate until the final pages. Don't get me wrong - the book is filled with humor and love and laced with hope, but that doesn't make it easier to read. To say I was unprepared for this book would be putting it mildly. That's what I get for judging a book by its cover. On the other hand, if I had known what the book was actually about, I probably would not have read it, which would have been my loss.

This is a powerful, important story full of beautifully (and occasionally, horribly) flawed people, but it's not for everyone. Curse words are scattered throughout the book, but that is inconsequential compared to the story's examination of the worst kind of bullying and its devastating and far-reaching effects. I would, however, whole-heartedly recommend the book to anyone brave and mature enough to read it.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Amazing Book -- Not Perfect, But Definitely Amazing Sept. 12 2012
By Pam - because someone has to be GOOD - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Wow. Just wow. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen was nothing like what I was expecting. The book description was something along the lines of "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."

Okay. I can deal with some dark humor. Especially when I look at the cover. Doesn't it look light-hearted? I was expecting something like The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Franscico Stork. Or John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.

NO WAY. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is NOT as light-hearted as TFOS. In fact, it's a very dark, very intense read that depressed the heck out of me. Yes, it's THAT GOOD. It totally involved me. I felt tremendous empathy for Henry and his family, but some times I just had to put it down and go for a walk with the dogs. Maybe hug my kids.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is not a perfect book by the way. Everything wraps up a tiny bit too fast, and the secondary characters aren't fully formed. But I found it poignant and authentic and what it had to say far exceeds any faults.

Pam T~
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Just ignore the fact that it doesn't sound like a real diary Sept. 14 2012
By Meaghan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I got this book free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

This is an excellent depiction of a boy and his family family, ripped apart at the seams by violence and tragedy, and how they begin to stitch themselves back together again. The protagonist, 13-year-old Henry, began his diary at the request of his therapist. Although reluctant to write at first (hence the title), Henry came to depend on his journal as a confidant to help him deal with his pain and grief. The characterization of this boy and the people around him -- his parents, other residents in his apartment building, his new school friends -- is spot-on.

The big problem, though, is that this really doesn't sound like a real diary. In my experience just about every diary-novel has this issue. For the story to work, it has to be detailed. You have to actually hear the characters talk, and so on. But most people don't write in their diaries in that kind of detail; diary entries are usually summaries of the day's events instead, since the diarist writes for himself and he already knows what happened.

Try not to let that bother you. This is a very good book. But I think it would have been better in a more typical, episodic format.

If you liked this book you would probably also enjoy Ann Dee Ellis's This is What I Did:, Catherine Austen's Walking Backward and Susan Shaw's One of the Survivors.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Well-written Jan. 9 2013
By eckief - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was an outstanding take on the perspective of the younger brother of a school killer. The younger brother witnessed his older brother being bullied and harassed beyond his ability to take it any longer. The fact that his brother went mad and killed his main tormentor is only a testament to the human spirit's inability to suffer humiliation, defeat, and physical abuse on an ongoing basis. I read the book because I want to learn all I can about bullying - I was bullied as a child in school and at home. My children were bullied. We have all experienced the sense of shame, helplessness, and rage that both the killer and his brother suffered. Thankfully we lived through it and survived (as did the bullies) - but I experience and note the long-term effects in myself and family members: poor self-esteem, difficulty in forming close friendships, and an overall distrust of people. I think that Susin Neilson captures not only the tumult of mean emotions that are associated with this issue, but has managed to encapsulate this dark tale within a lively, charming story. I read the book in one day, and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in this problem.
A must-read for teens and adults Feb. 8 2013
By Heidi G - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.