The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen - Susin Nielsen I really really loved this book. I thought Henry was an amazing and utterly convincing 14 year old. I'm the oldest of three and Nielsen made me cry as she described the relationship between Henry and his older brother Jesse. Just a warning, I've got spoilers from here on out!

I've got a bit of a complex when it comes to violent bullying/torture scenes in books an movies. It deeply deeply disturbs me, and yet whenever someone writes a scene well I am weirdly super appreciative of the author's ability to convincingly make my skin crawl. I felt this way when, at the end of the book, Henry describes the final act that tipped Jesse over the edge. The utter humiliation that was conveyed and ominous way Nielsen describes the duct tape being ripped open and the subsequent "sand-bagging" makes me, even as a write this, want to throw up. Nielsen accurately depicts the physiological torture of bullying. How utterly belittling it is, how worthless and helpless you feel. The physical is nothing compared to the derisive laughter. As a reader I was torn, because I finally understood why Jesse did what he did. I was a horrible choice, but I could see Jesse's breaking point. I was a complete cry-baby when it came to the part where Henry describes being a little bit ashamed of his older brother. As an older sister there is nothing more devestating than becoming "less" in your siblings eyes.

So, in short this book as absolutely amazing. I loved the characters, but I thought the family dynamics that Nielsen creates is especially good - Nielsen convincingly creates a tortured character that we eventually empathize and understand.

Hands down recommend this book.