The ever so talented Susin Nielsen, author of “Word Nerd” and “Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom” has done it again in her newest novel “The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen“. What do I mean when I say she’s done it again? I mean that Susin Nielsen has the ability to create characters that stay with you for quite sometime, you become the character when you read her words, you feel the essence of why they do the things they do.
Her newest novel is slightly “darker” (if you will) because it’s dealing with a much heavier topic than past novels, bullying. The impressive thing about this novel is that it focuses on the aftermath of bullying and how it effects a person’s family and friends when tragedy occurs. After IT happens (this is how Henry typically refers to the tragedy involving his brother) Henry is forced to see Cecil a psychologist who has a stinky, small office. He has no desire to be there and usually resorts to using his Robot voice to avoid any serious conversations. Cecil suggests that it might be best if Henry documents his feelings in a journal, thus the reluctant journal of Henry K. Larsen is born, but not without some hesitation, in the beginning he writes, “This journal is stupid” at 2:30am.
However, Henry’s journal turns into a source of consistency and it begins to help him process his thoughts, his new school, his new friends and the past. The beauty of the journal is that it showcases a little boy who has had to grow up faster than his peers, but still manages to keep his innocence and youth intact, by sharing his love of “Saturday Night Smash-Up” a wrestling show that he and his entire family loves to watch.
Susin Nielsen has written a fabulous story, her best yet in my opinion, because she’s showcases the effects of bullying in a way I’ve never seen done before. It’s a story that’s enriched with fabulous characters and important lessons from beginning to end.