Updated: Jul 18, 2022
How do you un-know somebody if you only know most of you because of them?
Level: Year 9+
Henry Hamlet’s Heart is Queensland author Rhiannon Wilde’s debut novel, and I'm sure it will not be her last. Reading this book is like hugging a person who you’ve loved a long time. The story is filled with uncertainty, fear, and grief, but above all, there is this undying sense of warmth between the characters, even when they’re at odds.
Henry and Len have been best friends so long they don’t remember how their friendship started. So, when the dynamics of their relationship start to change in a way Henry never expected, he has to not only risk losing his friend, but also the person he thought he was. Set in the final semester of year 12, the story is punctuated by the looming and inevitable end of life as they know it. Graduation.
I fell in love with the characters on page one. Henry is high-strung, awkward, and a bit of a control freak. But he’s also introspective, caring, and creative. His narration is peppered with self-deprecating humour as well as snippets from his journal, profound but unpretentious. And then there’s Len. He’s confident, charismatic, frustrating, protective, loyal, and reserved, navigating the grief left behind after losing a parent.
If there’s one thing that stands out about this book, it’s the delicate way that Wilde handles first love. The tenderness, desperation, and madness of it all.
Henry is at that time in his life when he is learning which people he’s safe to be himself around, and how important those people are. His identity is still fragmented, different parts of his personality etched into the people he grew up with.
The joy of reading this book was watching Henry piece himself together, and in doing that, realise that there is no greater joy in life than not knowing all the answers.
I’d recommend this book to lovers of Jennifer Niven and David Leviathan.