Is Henry Relatable?

Discuss the January 2017 Book of the Month, We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson.
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hsimone
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Is Henry Relatable?

Post by hsimone »

Henry has some deep emotional baggage right from the beginning of the novel. Father leaving, unstable home environment, boyfriend committing suicide, and even bullying at school.
  • 1) Do you find his character relatable to teenagers nowadays? Or is his situation unique?

    2) Are there any experience(s) that can be generalized for most teenagers?

    3) Which one do you think would relate to a high school teenager the most? How about the least?
"Love is patient, love is kind." -1 Corinthians 13:4

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Post by Jennifer Allsbrook »

hsimone wrote:Henry has some deep emotional baggage right from the beginning of the novel. Father leaving, unstable home environment, boyfriend committing suicide, and even bullying at school.
  • 1) Do you find his character relatable to teenagers nowadays? Or is his situation unique?

    2) Are there any experience(s) that can be generalized for most teenagers?

    3) Which one do you think would relate to a high school teenager the most? How about the least?
I work with teenagers daily and can definitely say that Henry is relatable. Teens come to school with problems that would turn your hair gray. They can be abused by their parents or their boy friends or girl friends. They can be bullied in person or on social media. They may have substance abuse problems. They may be homeless and living out of a car. They may need to deal with death such as a parent, friend or other loved-one. Most teens are trying to build a self image and all of these factors can have a huge impact. What they see in the mirror may not reflect the truth of who they are but instead may reflect what others see. That is why bullying can be so dangerous. It makes me think of Diego's painting of Henry. He sees something in Henry that Henry couldn't see himself - his strength. In terms of which factor would most teens relate to - I would say Henry's insecurities. All teens want to be accepted and fear being rejected by their peers whether it be because of their looks, their SES, their intellect or lack there of, or for some other real or perceived deficit.

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Post by Gravy »

Well said :clap:
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"I loved her not for the way she danced with my angels, but for the way the sound of her name could silence my demons."

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Post by hsimone »

It was very well put, thank you!

I feel that teenagers have too much baggage just being teens, never mind with everything that have to deal with their home life. I've worked with children from babies to middle school, and their stories always break my heart.

When thinking about the least generalized experience that teenagers have to deal with, I was going to say suicide. However, one of my closest friends in high school began cutting herself. Her insecurities and the wanting to be accepted by more got too be too much for her. She never talked about committing suicide, however, she did talk down about herself a lot. Luckily, she stopped after we talked; though I did have to result to threatening to tell her parents if she continued. We kept in touch for a while after high school, but as some friends do, we fell apart. But, last I heard she was doing fine.
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Post by ashley_claire »

I think Henry is a very relatable character for teens. Even those who may not have problems at home that are as severe as his are, I think it paints a fairly accurate picture of a typical school setting. I think having an absent parent is the most relatable problem that Henry has. I remember more of my friends growing up in one parent household than not. Suicide seems like it would be the least relatable of Henry's experiences.

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Post by Lest92 »

Henry's extremely relatable, not just to teenagers, but anyone who is stuck in an existential funk.

Contemporary teenagers can relate to Henry; because the teenage years are an in-between time, few things are certain, many teens are prone to melancholy, and it's during this time (if not earlier) that the existential crisis is experienced. Henry is morbid, but he has a wry sense of humour that teenaged readers will enjoy; it makes him very real.
We Are the Ants explores generalised teenage issues such as a missing parent, aging family members, sibling rivalry, high school (which is a never-ending nightmare if one is at the bottom of the totem pole) uncertainty about the future, cynicism, the beginnings of misanthropy and insecurities.
I think Henry's insecurities are the most relatable, with existential despair a close second. What some might not relate to as much is the dysfunctional family, or barely functioning family. You can have a wonderful family but still question the meaning of your existence, and if it really matters in the greater scheme of things.

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Post by Megwe85 »

Henry is definitely relatable and I think everyone, not just teens, can empathize with his situation. I taught high school and also went to high school and I can say without a doubt, that aside from the alien abductions, Henry is not totally unique. One major experience that can be generalized to most kids/teens is how rumors, then nicknames, can lead to unbelievable pain.
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Post by KAV »

Like everyone else that has posted, I would definitely say that Henry is relatable. I do think a lot of the book was overkill on the situations. I mean Henry had a lot of family issues. Almost all of them are extremely relevant for teenagers but actually having all of them happen to one person was a little much in my opinion.

I agree with megwe. The rumors and name calling is definitely a generalized experience that every school has and can cause the most damage. Physical pain heals over time but emotional and phycological stay with you forever.

I would say the alien abductions were the least relevant. I had two suicides and multiple attempts/cutting in my highschool. Even if people don't actually succeed in killing themselves, I think there are a lot more attempts than people think. I used to work in children's hospital and I can't even name how many attempts there were daily. Most of them were teenagers.
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I think, despite having a specific set of problems that he is dealing with, Henry is completely relatable to any teen. Young adult literature, especially realistic fiction, is inherently relatable, because it often deals with finding your place, coming of age, acceptance, etc. Adolescence is an awkward time for most people, and while Henry might have more baggage than most, I still believe he's very relatable.
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Post by dosenron877 »

1) Do you find his character relatable to teenagers nowadays? Or is his situation unique?

2) Are there any experience(s) that can be generalized for most teenagers?

3) Which one do you think would relate to a high school teenager the most? How about the least?
(1a) Henry's situation is not unique as far as bullying, a broken home, and confusion over sexual identity. The answer is a bit different when you add aliens.

(2a) The most generalized experience I see shared by teenagers is the dysfunctional family. This does not mean having only one parent. A person can have two caring but usually stoned parents. I have arrested mom and pop as they saw their child as an object of further enjoyment in the bedroom. So I mention the label dysfunctional as a term that encompasses more than abandonment.

(3a) The least relatable would be the alien experience. The most relatable would be the inability to find appropriate (defined by the victim) help.
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Post by hailvilla18 »

Henry's situation is very relatable. Many teenagers nowadays experience bullying, not just in school, in the community, but also in social networking sites. One thing more is having a broken family. Most children suffer when their parents separate like feeling insecure, having self-doubt, low self-esteem, and misplaced anger. Most importantly, it is relatable because many also experience identity crisis.
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