Cover image for Being with Henry
Being with Henry
Brooks, Martha, 1944-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Dorling Kindersley Pub., [2000]

Physical Description:
216 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
670 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.5 6.0 35782.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.9 11 Quiz: 24211 Guided reading level: NR.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A teenage outcast, a grieving old man, and an untold story come together in unexpected ways in this moving novel about losing family -- and finding it.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-12. When a confrontation with his latest stepfather turns violent, 16-year-old Laker is kicked out of the house, boards the first bus bound for anywhere else, and ends up panhandling on the street. There he meets Henry, an 83-year-old widower who can't adjust to life alone. The two strike up an uneasy relationship when Henry offers the young man a place to stay in exchange for yard work. In this expansion of a short story from her collection Traveling on into the Light (1994), Brooks turns a coming-of-age plot into a fresh discovery. The interplay between the two characters is both brittle and caring, the most casual gestures layered with a quiet affection. Readers who like their fiction strictly realistic may balk at Henry's overly patient manner and at the almost magical coincidences that lead Laker to the truth about his biological father. But by this time, most of them will already have fallen under the spell of this bittersweet depiction of a powerful male friendship that reaches across generations. --Randy Meyer

Publisher's Weekly Review

Though Brooks (Bone Dance) develops a poignant relationship between a runaway teen and an octogenarian widower, other elements of her story--the awkward structure, improbable plot and stereotyped minor characters--ultimately undermine the novel. For instance, after establishing a leisurely pace in the first chapter, in the following chapter, the author moves the protagonist through an entire year in the space of four pages. Readers may find it challenging to follow Laker Fontaine's 16th year as he moves jerkily along through a series of dramatic turns. When he gets into a brawl with his verbally abusive step-father, in defense of his mother, the woman kicks him out of the house. Laker then boards a bus to the town of Bemidji, where 83-year-old Henry takes him in despite protests from his overbearing daughter. During the next several months, Laker and Henry come to rely on each other: Laker offers Henry companionship; Henry, in turn, gives Laker a sense of security and enough freedom to mull over his past and make decisions about the future. Shifting between third-person narrative and cryptic journal entries penned by Laker, this novel relies heavily on coincidence and catastrophe. Readers will be all too aware of the author's hand in directing Laker's fate. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Laker and his mother have always had a close relationship, but things change after she remarries. When his stepfather verbally abuses her, Laker attacks him and is thrown out of the house. Alone and with no resources, the teen takes off to another town. When his money runs out and he can't get a job since he has no address, he begins to beg. An elderly man, Henry, invites him to stay at his home and do yard work. Laker accepts his offer and an uneasy friendship develops. Henry's grown daughter is upset with the situation and distrusts the boy's motives, but his granddaughter gets over her initial mistrust and jealousy as she and Laker become close friends. When Henry's health begins to fail, Laker realizes how important the old man has become to him and that he cannot go back even after he and his mother reconcile. Linking the elements of the plot is Laker's journal in which he records his dreams, dreams that seem important but that he can't understand. Brooks's incorporation of psychological elements into the narrative adds to the final intensity of the book as Laker discovers the meaning of his dreams, meshes them with reality, and, in the process, finds help in an old friend to bridge the gaps in his life. While the ending seems slightly abrupt, the overall impact of the book is not diminished. The well-rounded, essentially human characters, with all their faults and problems, prove that the closest ties that one can form are not necessarily blood ties, but are those based on mutual love and respect.-Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.