In terms of its structure, Being with Henry resembles a quest tale in which a young boy is sent away from his home, is tested by the world, and then returns, having gained wisdom both from those individuals he encounters and from his experiences. But the work offers much more than this simple story line, for Being with Henry is also, in part, a book about role reversal in which a teen assumes a parenting function with regard to his emotionally weak single mother and a middle-aged daughter over-protectively mothers her widowed eighty-yearold father. Being with Henry demonstrates the surprising commonalities shared by those who are very different ages.
The book's central character, Laker Wyatt, first appeared in "The Kindness of Strangers," one of the stories in the collection Traveling on into the Light. Interestingly, that same collection contains three stories that feature Sidonie and Kieran, characters from Brooks's first YA novel, Two Moons in August. Feedback from both Brooks's adult and young adult readers indicated that they continued to worry about Laker because, in that initial short story, "The Kindness of Strangers," he had been left, rejected and betrayed by his mother, still sitting at the kitchen table with Henry Olsen. At the story's conclusion, Laker has no clear vision of where he will go or what he will do, but he was clear about the kindness of his host. Brooks said that writing Being with Henry...
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