[New in Review] The Reluctant Journal of Henry Larsen by Susin Nielsen

Author(s): Susin Nielsen

Publisher: Random House of Canada Ltd

  • Imprint: Tundra Books

Date Published: September 11, 2012

Format: Hardcover

Source: Own copy


Darker than her previous novels, 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.

Number of Days It Took to Read: 2



In my opinion, I think that the cover of this book would definitely appeal more to a young male reader which is a good thing. Although female readers shouldn’t feel discouraged from picking it up as I think the story it has a more universal appeal. Furthermore the images featured on the cover are rather comical, and they do make sense once you are more familiar with the story.

The Writing Score: 5 out of 5

Recommendation: A Must Read

Memorable or Forgettable: Memorable

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


I really enjoyed this book. After hearing that it won the Governor General’s award I was even more intrigued to read it. Luckily I was able to get an advanced reader copy of the book.

True to the title of the book, the book itself is written in a journal style format. It chronicles the main character, Henry’s life as he and his father try to move on with their lives after an incident he calls “IT”. The writing style really does make it appear as if the story is being told by a teenage boy, and his observations about the people in his life though at times were biased were always interesting and amusing to read. Overall the writing was simple and easy to read in addition to being good humored and realistic.

Right away the story in the book drew me in, having been bullied when I was younger I could really relate to some of the things that happened to the characters. In fact one of the characters, the brother of Henry reminded me a lot of someone in my family. Overall the plot was well done and original and while I am not a big fan on wrestling I think it fitted well with the story in this book. Finally I liked the fact that not everything was wrapped up so neatly in the end. Although the story did end on an optimistic note to show that Henry was starting to move on with his life, it managed to stay true to life by indicating that not everything was perfect in his life.

With regards to the characters, I found Henry to be a bit self deprecating but in a way that made him more aware of himself and others. I also really like how the friendship between Farley and Henry grew over the course of the story, and it made me wish that I had a friend who was as loyal as Farley was to Henry. The other characters like Farley were described in very amusing ways which reflected Henry’s age as well as his personal opinion of them. (Most of which were not very high) I especially enjoyed the humorous back and forth with the signs that Henry’s neighbours, Karen and Mr. Atapattu posted. I felt that it added to the quirkiness of the tenants who lived in the same building as Henry.

On the whole I found myself both laughing and crying throughout the entire book. The descriptions of the characters were extremely entertaining which contrasted well with the more serious parts of the story. After finishing this book I just had to go and get myself a finished copy of the book, it was just that good. I definitely would recommend this book as a must read for everyone.

The opinions expressed in this review are my own; I did not receive any compensation in exchange for this review.

– Linh

3 thoughts on “[New in Review] The Reluctant Journal of Henry Larsen by Susin Nielsen

  1. I agree, this book was emotional but such an amazing story that needs to be out there for everyone to read. I was unsure going into this book, because of the writing style (I’m not one for reading a book that is written as a journal), but Nielsen did an amazing job drawing readers into the story. And yes, Farley was such a great character, I loved their friendship.

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