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The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

Written by Susin Nielsen

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The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen Review

Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 13+ readers Featured Books for Young Adults Recommended Children's eBooks School Stories

A prize winning writer tackles tough subjects with humour, sensitivity and a light touch

Winner of the UKLA 2017 Book Award

From the author of Lovereading4kids favourite We Are All Made of Molecules, this is another book that grips from the first chapter, a heart-breaking story that will nonetheless make readers laugh and leave them feeling better about the world. Henry’s life is changed for ever by ‘IT’, a terrible event that we learn about through the journal his psychologist encourages him to keep, and which describes, gradually and in surprising ways, how through new friendships and the Global Wrestling Foundation, he finds ways to cope. Nielsen writes about the heaviest subjects with the lightest of touches: here it’s suicide, bullying, breakdown but so subtly described, the balance between tragedy and humour so carefully managed, that this is a truly uplifting, even happy read.



Other Info

Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss is also a subtle story of teenage suicide and equally heart-warming and bullying is handled as obliquely but revealingly in The Icarus Show by Sally Christie. ~ Andrea Reece

Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen Synopsis

Heartbreaking, surprising and laugh-out-loud funny, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen is about the things that remain after your life has fallen to pieces. From the author of the acclaimed We Are All Made of Molecules. Tragedy and comedy intertwine in this award-winning novel about a boy confronting his painful past.

Thirteen-year-old wrestling fanatic Henry used to have a normal life. Now, his therapist wants him to keep a journal so he can express his feelings about what happened. Henry has moved with his dad to a new city, where nobody knows their name. He lives off a diet of pizza, whilst hiding from the comically overbearing neighbours and avoiding being an obvious target for bullies at his new school. But then he meets Farley and Alberta, social misfits who refuse to let him be alone. And bit by bit, the past begins to come out.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Amelia Corrick-Gough, age 14 - 'This book reeled me in from the first page, and kept me spellbound until the very last word. I connected with the characters really well, especially Farley, and I loved the ideas behind this book!'
  • Leanne Turner, age 12 - 'This is a fantastic book. Susin Nielson has done a very good job writing it.'
  • Henry Plummer, age 10 - 'This book touches on bullying and its disastrous consequences, upsetting at times but also humorous in places. Henry tries to make a fresh start only to find you can't run away from bullies...'
  • Edel Waugh - 'The story is heart-breaking and at many times bittersweet, seeing the results of bullying from a different angle is enlightening and thought provoking.'
  • Megan Chambers, age 14 - 'This book was fantastic. I read it all in one go, not stopping for anything. It is absolutely incredible and everyone should read it.'
  • Emily Setchell, age 16 - 'This was a charming book that intrigued me until the end. It was done sensitively, whilst remaining entertaining and gritty at the same time.'
  • Adam Goodman, age 13 - 'I LOVED this book! The more I read it, the more the story unravelled, and the more I wanted to read on!!'
  • Destiny Maraj, age 14 - 'The novel really made me think, it was a very heavy topic but had a good sense of humour showing both the lightness and the darkness. I loved reading this novel!' 

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen Press Reviews

'Both disarming and endearing. A realistic, poignant portrait of one teen who overcomes nearly unbearable feelings of grief and guilt.' Kirkus

'Nielsen's balance of humor and pathos is finely honed, making this a surprisingly breezy read for so heavy a topic' Daniel Kraus Booklist

'A fantastic narrator, authentic and endearing ... a memorable read for all the right reasons' Booktrust

Praise for We Are All Made of Molecules:

‘Snappy and witty. A really fine YA novel’ Martin Chilton, Telegraph Books

‘A book to fortify readers against bullies and homophobes’ Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times

‘I defy you not to fall in love with this book’ Phil Earle

‘A really special book with a huge heart’ Melissa Cox

‘There’s already so much love out there for this one, and deservedly so.’ Fiona Noble, Editor’s Choice, The Bookseller

‘Bursts of laughter and moments of sadness - what a gem!‘ Kew Bookshop

‘Ashley and Stewart are irresistible characters and this is set to become one of the most popular books of the year’ Andrea Reece, Lovereading

‘Nielsen excels at characterisation... Richly developed, emotionally compelling and often very funny. Unputdownable.‘ INIS

‘One of the best YA books I’ve read. It pulled me from the depths of a month-long reading slump... It made me excited to read again’ Wondrous Reads

‘Susin Nielsen’s depiction of grief was picture perfect. A sweet, funny, touching and incredibly important book’ So Many Books, So Little Time

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781783443666
Publication date: 04/02/2016
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781783443666
Publication date: 4th February 2016
Author: Susin Nielsen
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 272 pages
Suitable for: 13+ readers, YA readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, School Stories
Recommendations: eBooks, Reviewed by Children
Other Categories: All Shortlists and Winners, UKLA 2017

About Susin Nielsen

Susin Nielsen got her start feeding cast and crew on the popular television series, Degrassi Junior High. They hated her food, but they saw a spark in her writing. Nielsen went on to pen sixteen episodes of the hit TV show. Since then, Nielsen has written for many Canadian TV series. Nielsen's first two young adult novels, Word Nerd and Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom, received critical acclaim and multiple Young Readers' Choice Awards. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen won the prestigious Governor General's Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association's Children's Book of the Year and ...

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