Let me set the scene. A 17-ish year old boy wakes up to someone asking him if he's going to eat that. The boy has no idea who he is, where is, or how he got there. The only thing he has is $10 in his pocket and a well worn copy of Thoreau's Walden. The man asking him if he's going to eat that steals his book and runs off with it, sits down, and begins tearing the pages out to eat them. The boy is horrified and mad and draws the attention of a policeman, who takes the book back and gives it to the boy. The boy goes to the restroom to see what he looks like, thinking maybe that will trigger some sort of memory. He runs into Jack and makes up the name Henry David, from, you guessed it, Henry David Thoreau. Jack's story is also heartbreaking. He's a teenage runaway and decides Henry David is Hank, so that's the name he uses for the rest of the book (mostly, anyway).
I won't tell any more of the plot, because it's much better if you don't see what's coming. It's not all predictable, though some of it is. I will tell you to be on the lookout for a tattooed historian librarian because he totally makes the book. Partly because I'm a librarian and I wish my story was as cool as Thomas'.
I like the angle Armistead took for some of Hank's memories to resurface. The guitar playing was nice and a good bonding instrument (har de har har) for him and Thomas and some of the other characters.
I won't lie, there were some moments I had to walk away from the book because I was crying so hard, I couldn't read. When I say it is heartbreaking, I mean I could feel my heart hurt. It takes an amazing writer to give you that kind of feeling and then be able to lift you up like Armistead has done.
I will recommend this book to students who are going through a rough patch, who enjoy romance novels (even thought there's not a lot of romance, it is a book about relationships), and who enjoy sappy books.