Read Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson Online


Adopted by a pair of diehard hippies, restless, marginal Jude Keffy-Horn spends much of his youth getting high with his best friend, Teddy, in their bucolic and deeply numbing Vermont town. But when Teddy dies of an overdose on the last day of 1987, Jude's relationship with drugs and with his parents devolves to new extremes. Sent to live with his pot-dealing father in NewAdopted by a pair of diehard hippies, restless, marginal Jude Keffy-Horn spends much of his youth getting high with his best friend, Teddy, in their bucolic and deeply numbing Vermont town. But when Teddy dies of an overdose on the last day of 1987, Jude's relationship with drugs and with his parents devolves to new extremes. Sent to live with his pot-dealing father in New York City's East Village, Jude stumbles upon straight edge, an underground youth culture powered by the paradoxical aggression of hardcore punk and a righteous intolerance for drugs, meat, and sex. With Teddy's half brother, Johnny, and their new friend, Eliza, Jude tries to honor Teddy's memory through his militantly clean lifestyle. But his addiction to straight edge has its own dangerous consequences. While these teenagers battle to discover themselves, their parents struggle with this new generation's radical reinterpretation of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll and their grown-up awareness of nature and nurture, brotherhood and loss.Moving back and forth between Vermont and New York City, Ten Thousand Saints is an emphatically observed story of a frayed tangle of family members brought painfully together by a death, then carried along in anticipation of a new and unexpected life. With empathy and masterful skill, Eleanor Henderson has conjured a rich portrait of the modern age and the struggles that unite and divide generations....

Title : Ten Thousand Saints
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062021021
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 388 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Ten Thousand Saints Reviews

  • Will Byrnes
    2019-03-22 07:08

    You’ve been punked. There are few halos in view in this ensemble coming-of-age tale. Sixteen-year-old Jude Keffy-Horn, named for the saint of lost causes, and maybe a Beatles song, is a lost soul of a teenager. He lives a fairly meaningless existence in Lintonberg, Vermont (by which we mean Burlington), filled with drugs and rock and roll, if no sex yet. He is prone to angry outbursts and has trouble concentrating in school. His bff is Teddy, the product of an alcoholic, erratic mother and a possibly dead father.Eleanor Henderson - from her siteParents are absent in abundance in Lintonberg. Busy dealing pot in New York City, Jude’s father, Lester, only rarely gets in touch. Teddy has no recollection of his father at all. His mom says he died, but Teddy is not so sure. Teddy’s half-brother, Johnny, living now in New York City, has a career criminal for a father. Thankfully, pops is safely tucked away behind bars. Teddy and Jude spend much of their time in chemically-induced altered states. Teddy suffers a shock when his substance and responsibility-challenged mother abandons him. Things take a further turn in Lintonberg when Jude’s father sends his girlfriend’s far-too-worldly fifteen-year-old daughter, Eliza, to visit. She accompanies the two friends to a boisterous party. Substances are abused a step too far. Teddy winds up a Ted-sicle. Jude winds up depressed and Eliza winds up preggers. Jude heads south with his sad song and tries to make it better.Ethan Hawke as Les and Asa Butterfield as Jude - image from Rogerebert.comEleanor Henderson, in Ten Thousand Saints, offers us a trip down memory lane to the 1980s. Well, maybe it’s more of an alley. Henderson is trying to capture the feel of the straight-edge subculture that grew out of the punk rock movement, and entailed abstinence from drugs, alcohol, sex and meat. In an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, Henderson said, I couldn't have written this book without my husband, Aaron. Growing up, he spent a lot of time on St. Mark's Place in New York, where his mother lived for 25 years, and it was there that he first encountered the straight-edge hardcore scene in the late 1980s. His stories about that period and that place always appealed to me, and I knew that I wanted to capture them, to perform some kind of ethnography. It was the paradox of the subculture that fascinated me the most—teenage boys playing angry music and swearing off drugs?" (, of course, it is particularly tough to be straight in a bent world. The AIDS crisis is blossoming into full flower and fear is in the air, as is rage. There is street violence, police abuse and all the fun things one associates with Manhattan’s pre-gentrified East Village and Lower East Side, along with a dose of Krishna Konsciousness. (Violence takes place back in Vermont, as well, lest one think this is being portrayed as a New Punk City thing.) Henderson casts a passing glance at the gentrification pressure that was well underway by the 1987 setting. And there is never any doubt that the time period is the 80’s. To pepper a story with references to a place or time adds flavor. But when the entire shaker is upended it makes the meal unpalatable. If there was a band that was at all punkish in the 1980s it is probably mentioned here. Yes, yes, yes, we get it. Aside from beating us about the head with time references, Henderson offers characters that are very flawed. A few scars or an irregular sense of right and wrong can allow one to relate to and engage with characters. But it helps if they are likeable. In Ten Thousand Saints, not so much. The adults do not come off too well, a criminal doing time, a criminal doing business, a psycho mom, and the occasional sane parent. Is it any wonder the kids are far from all right? For so many of the young characters, bad choice follows bad choice. Perhaps that is too dark a shade with which to paint the entire cast. There are some endearing moments in which characters jump into real-mode for a while, wrestle with tough moral questions. Johnny, Teddy’s half-brother, a tattoo-artist-rocker, seemed the most developed, and sympathetic. He confronts real choices about his preferences, tries to be the adult in a world of children, even though he is a teenager himself, takes on responsibility and goes above and beyond to try to make right as many things as possible. I found some of the choices presented in the final wrap-up very, very questionable, but I will not spoil that here. While the tiny straight-edge movement may hold interest for Henderson, whose cognizance of it is second hand, it strikes me as just another form of extremism, borne along by the youthful exuberance of its participants. Henderson’s writing shows considerable promise. When the characters come alive, it is vibrant. And a bit of literary ambition pokes through from time to time. There is a scene in which a homeless, naked pregnant woman is seen running down a street, clearly offering metaphorical support for one of Henderson’s characters. Jude is badly scarred physically by a bad, drug-induced choice he makes. Nice symbolism for the damage we all inflict on ourselves by our own questionable choices. When Jude leaves Vermont for NYC, the house he leaves had been left half done by his father, Lester, when he had left. It is a jumble of things incomplete, a kitchen lacking drawers, rooms with pipes and insulation but no dropped ceiling, a nice image for a person who is incomplete as he sets off to find, and maybe construct himself. But the whole just does not pull together for me. The characters are not nearly likable enough. And failing likability, not engaging enough. If you don’t care for or relate all that much to the characters in a story it is tough to care much for the story. How that manifested for me was that I found myself resisting returning to the book. It took much longer to read than its length merited. I would certainly look at Henderson’s next big work, but while Ten Thousand Saints has some intriguing elements, it was not quite heavenly enough. I expect Henderson's future work to be a bit closer to beatitude. P.S.StretchingThe title comes from a quote from the book of Jude, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all.According to many sources, the “saints” in the introductory quote could just as easily be angels, which summons to mind Angels in America, the 1991 play about AIDS. As AIDS figures in the book, it might be what the author had in mind. Or they could be the dead, redeemed and coming back with JC to exact some judgment on the unworthy. Maybe, in this context, she might be referring to the unpleasant view of some that the AIDS epidemic was a judgment by god on godless homosexuals and, I suppose, Haitians.The film was released in 2015 and did pretty much no business. I have not seen it, so can offer no opinion, but here is a review by Sheila O'Malley on the site.

  • Amy
    2019-03-09 12:08

    What did this book want to be? Who knows? Henderson throws everything at this book (adoption, teen pregnancy, AIDS, absent parents, drugs, jock-bullies, damaged lower classes, damaged upper classes, FAS, ODing, straight edge movement, homosexuality,etc.) but the kitchen sink. After almost 400 pages & all the hard issues Henderson tackles, the book left me with not much to think about. Why? Because Henderson didn't focus on any one thing, she just keeps throwing out more problems & improbable situations. The characters are cartoony & not well developed. Henderson made a backdrop (NYC/Vermont 1980's) which could have been really intersting, however Henderson fumbles here as well. I feel she fundamentally doesn't understand her characters or how to weave an in depth tale.I just finished an excellent coming of age book (Ask the Dust) & this is the unlucky follower. Maybe it was just bad timing.

  • Toni
    2019-02-25 12:10

    I think I will be gushing about this book for quite some time. It's definitely my new one-size-fits-all book recommendation -- I basically can't conceptualize who out there wouldn't love it. It's a coming-of-age story, many times over, set against the backdrop the late-1980's hardcore punk / straightedge scene, in a long-gone New York. And it just has so much heart, and is so meticulously constructed, and tells such doozy of a story. After I finished it, I went back and reread the New York Times Book Review review, in which Stacey D'Erasmo says this:The ambition of “Ten Thousand Saints,” Eleanor Henderson’s debut novel about a group of unambitious lost souls, is beautiful. In nearly 400 pages, Henderson does not hold back once: she writes the hell out of every moment, every scene, every perspective, every fleeting impression, every impulse and desire and bit of emotional detritus. She is never ironic or underwhelmed; her preferred mode is fierce, devoted and elegiac.Yup, pretty much sums it up.

  • Elaine Lincoln
    2019-03-07 13:49

    This was well-written, but ultimately I had a problem with the book: it seemed the author backed off from showing the scenes of transformation that comprise the book. We see that Jude has adopted the straight edge lifestyle, but we don't see the months when this happens; we just see him after the fact. We see Johnny and Rooster in crisis, we're very invested in them, and then they just disappear. And there are other dropped threads, like Jude's FAS, which don't ever amount to anything. Most frustratingly, though, the author withholds information from us in the epilogue, refusing to divulge who one of the characters is walking down the street (something that matters very much to the narrative, and something we care about). There's a strong hint (the locket) that it could be Eliza, enough that we feel we should be told if it isn't. But then we aren't told. That's not the good kind of ambiguity. It almost feels like cowardice. And ultimately, although it was enjoyable I'm just not sure what it all added up to, what this book was really ABOUT. Forgettable.

  • Scott
    2019-03-04 08:51

    Yeah, I wasn't really convinced by Eleanor Henderson's too-long debut novel, set in New York City and southern Vermont in the early 1980s and starring a bunch of teenagers who, at various points, lose their virginity, smoke a lot of weed, huff freon, have a baby, get abandoned by their parents, die, live in Alphabet City squats, get AIDS, get tattoos, get in fights, and, for a big chunk of the book, play in a straight edge band and espouse the whole don't drink/smoke/fuck (also, here: /eat meat) lifestyle. Sounds promising, right? And the NYTBR gave it great front-page review, but really, the whole thing--the tone, the dialogue, the characters and their actions--seemed dangerously close to a YA book. Like, I kinda expected Johnny and Ponyboy to stroll onto the scene at any moment. Also: I didn't buy several key relationships, which provide the motivation for much of the narrative (and so, obviously, I didn't believe much of the narrative). Also, the settings felt forced, especially in the EVill. Basically it felt like Henderson did a lot research about the era, but no way did she live it. 2.5 stars.

  • Kinga
    2019-03-15 09:10

    “Ten Thousand Saints” is a coming of age story that’s close enough to “A Visit from the Goon Squad” but not as amazingly brilliant and a tiny bit like “Freedom” but luckily devoid of Franzen’s annoying self-importance.If you grew up in the 80’s somewhere on the East Coast of the US, you will be able to relate to this book, especially if your growing up involved drugs, teenage pregnancies, overdosing, AIDS, rock bands or Straight Edge movement. If your adolescence was more conservative you can read this novel to learn all about what you missed out on. In the end it doesn’t matter what you did as a teenager. It’s just a phase of our lives when we think everything is so bloody important but eventually we get over it, just like did the characters from ‘Ten Thousand Saints’ and just like did the whole city. New York got over the 80’s, the punk rock, the needles and crack vials.The book’s strength comes from its portrait of the Straight Edge movement which on the surface seemed really different from anything that teenagers did but in reality it has the same extreme and obsessive quality to it that everything else that teenagers so often abandon themselves to. It’s just another way to rebel against your parents, because let’s remember that we’re talking about the generation who had hippies for parents.Reading about sixteen year old Teddy’s death and its effect on lives of three teenagers is sure to cure your from any nostalgia you might’ve had about your high school times, because being a teenager is a dirty and emotional affair.The writing in “Ten Thousand Saints” is very cinematographic when it comes to describe the scene but occasionally fails to create the atmosphere, so the New York we see is more of a youtube video than a truly detailed picture. Yet, if the subject interests you, I’d certainly recommend it. It is not a bad effort for a debut and it seems that Henderson might have more talent than it shows here, so look out for her in the future.

  • Sorayya Khan
    2019-03-06 14:05

    Eleanor Henderson's Ten Thousand Saints is the perfect example of how really excellent fiction is universal. I was not, at the outset, interested in the straight-edge music scene of the 1980s, an odd off-shoot of the punk music scene (in fact, I knew nothing about it), yet the beautiful rendering of Henderson's story pulled me into a world I did not know I cared about. The novel is, plain and simple, a story of devotion--to family, to friendship, to music, to teenage bonds, to love, to survival. The story opens with two 16 year old boys spending a birthday night doing drugs, and only one boy, Jude, survives until the next morning. In some ways, the novel is as much Jude's coming-of-age story as it is a story of how he grapples with the grief of losing his best friend. Jude ends up leaving Vermont for New York, reacquainting himself with his "father", a pot dealer, and his brother, who is committed to the straight-edge music scene. Jude falls for both and for Eliza, the girl his best friend impregnated the night he died. This novel chronicles children carving a life for themselves amidst the rubble their parents provided for them. It's just a lovely, wonderful, beautiful rendition of these kids and their relationships to each other, their parents, their music. The writing in this book has been described as "muscular". I think about it as being terrifically right-on. The rhythm of the author's sentences, the shape of her paragraphs, mimic the cadence of the story. She doesn't hold back in her description of her characters, their setting, their emotions or predicaments. She brings all of this right to us and insists that we look at all of it as deeply as we can. I'm so glad this book was recommended to me. It deserves all the praise it is being met with. And, it's a first novel!

  • Dan
    2019-02-27 13:58

    This is the best contemporary novel I've read in years. I dreaded reading it - the New York Times review was absurdly congratulatory, which riled up the contrarian in me. The subject matter is "straight-edge punk." Generally, I hate books focused on music, because the author tries to rely on feelings he or she has about music that don't translate on the page. I only read the book because the review said it started in 1987, the first year of my yet-to-be published novel. It turns out that the only day in 1987 is new year's eve; the rest of the action takes place in 1988.After reading the novel (via audiobook - narration is ok, nothing great), I still don't care about straight-edge punk. I skimmed the wikipedia article and got bored. But the novel is so incredibly well written that it doesn't matter what you think about the music. The plot is convoluted and a bit melodramatic, but it's written with an insistent energy that is truly remarkable. Henderson is flawless when describing scenes, using only a few words to catch an image or a mood. Her dialog is pitch-perfect. And the dramatic arch feels like a novel. Too often someone who writes this well doesn't understand what a novel really is. This is a masterpiece. No wonder it took her nine years to write.

  • Felice
    2019-03-19 11:10

    Wow. I never would have thought of myself as the audience for TenThousand Saints.This is a novel about leftover hippies, yuppie invasions, pot sellers, zines, militant punks, AIDS, Vermont and New York City in the 1980's but this vigorous, imaginative, debut novel by Eleanor Henderson is packed with authenticity and mature storytelling. Ten Thousand Saints is the story of Jude Keffy-Horn. He was raised by adoptive, divorced, hippy parents in a small city in Vermont. On the last day of 1987 Jude’s best friend and partner in getting high, music and skipping school, Teddy, dies of an overdose. He had spent the previous night doing numerous drugs and having sex with Jude’s sort of stepsister, Eliza. Jude and Teddy were just shy of their sixteenth birthdays when this happened. Sixteen was the magical number that meant quitting school and committing completely to getting wasted as often and for as long as possible lifestyle. Teddy's death is a bit of a wake call for Jude's Mother and he is sent to live with his pot farmer Father in NYC. Surprisingly choosing to surround Jude with endless pot and place him in a city where anything is within arm’s reach does the trick. Jude careens from one extreme to another but instead of an excess of waste and drugs he becomes involved in the straight edge punk scene ( a combo of Hare Krishna and Hindu principles with a dab of cultish-ness mixed in) and embraces the total abstinence of drugs, sex and meat. Jude's parents would rather he be on a continual high than reject their choices with these new addictions but no matter. Jude creates his own family. There is Eliza, a scared prep school dropout who may be pregnant with Teddy's child and Teddy's militantly straight edge brother Johnny, a tattoo artist and musician.Jude’s new life is centered on three things: honoring Teddy’s memory, music and trying to outrun his parents mistakes. The most prominent manifestation of Teddy is Eliza’s pregnancy. All three: Jude, Eliza and Johnny go to great lengths to try and make sure Eliza can have the baby. Music, forming a band, is a big point of passion in the novel and it is the story’s entrée into much of the pop culture history of the 1980’s. This is the kind of panoramic novel that is usual to see centered on revolutions and multigenerational sagas about settling the American west. It’s much rarer to see this big vision brought to a relatively small time period and cast but Henderson does just that. She shines a light on this grimy world and the violence of growing up in it for this generation. This is unsentimental, strong storytelling.Reading Ten Thousands Saints is an engrossing experience. The characters, the dialog and the settings are so wholly believable incarnations the 1980’s that it is like going through a time machine. There are a few moments when the editor could have used a stronger hand but that is a very minor observation, nothing that interferes with your enjoyment with the book. Eleanor Henderson is to be applauded for writing such a vivid, accomplished first novel.

  • Larry H
    2019-03-18 11:12

    Jude and Teddy are childhood friends growing up in Vermont in the late 1980s. They do nearly everything together—cut school, take drugs, steal, listen to and play hardcore music, and dream of a "real life" away from what they know. Teddy's mother has just disappeared, leaving him to fend for himself and turn to Jude and his family for support. On New Year's Eve, Teddy and Jude meet up with Eliza, the daughter of Jude's father's girlfriend, and they take her to a party in search of fun and drugs (although not necessarily in that order). The party turns their lives upside down in more ways than one, and after they put Eliza back on a train to New York City, Teddy dies of an accidental drug overdose.Overcome with grief over the death of his best friend, yet unable to express himself, Jude heads to New York and finds Johnny, Teddy's straight-edge half-brother. (Straight-edge kids swear off drugs, alcohol, sex, and often meat, but follow the hardcore punk scene.) When they find out that Eliza is pregnant with Teddy's child from their encounter at the party the night he died, Johnny sees this as a chance to form a real family, one that has escaped him for so long. Yet he must deal with the demons inside himself, as well as Jude's jealousy, on so many different levels. This is a book about finding yourself and realizing what makes a family, about the hardcore music scene of the late 1980s and the changing demographics of New York City, and about trying to avoid making the same mistakes your parents made.I thought this book was pretty fantastic. Eleanor Henderson created some truly memorable characters and gave each surprising depth, which made me feel truly invested in what happened to them. There were a few times I worried the book would veer into overly dramatic plot twists, but each time, Henderson remained true to the characters and her story, and I was grateful for that. No one is infallible in this book, much as in life, and that is what made the story so appealing to me—although I couldn't necessarily identify with all of the characters and what they were going through, I felt as if all of the characters were realistic, particularly to the places and time in which the book took place. I flew through this book and of course, I'm sorry I finished it so quickly, because I want more. But I look forward to seeing what Henderson comes up with next!

  • Marc
    2019-03-15 13:47

    Reading the first few pages, I found myself squirming at the prospect of 300 more pages of another coming of age story, this time about a brooding, teenage protagonist that gets high on cleaning products and tailpipes, and his journey to “find himself” after the loss of his friend, another unlikeable loser named Teddy. But after the first couple chapters of your standard young adult fiction fare (forced urine drinking and adolescent coke snorting) the story fortunately took a turn for the better. This after introducing a pair of unconventional, but well-intentioned (and awesome) hippie parents, a ‘VEE’-gan tattoo artist with a predilection for activities Catholics would call unsavory, and an unexpected bun in the oven. However, the most interesting aspect was the author’s choice of the 80s straight edge punk movement as the backdrop for the book; though any setting could’ve been used in its place. With straight edge, it tried to set itself apart as being a way to express one’s individuality in a productive manner, but ultimately it was just another outlet with the same excess and indulgent qualities that teenagers tend to embrace to feel accepted. The way in which the movement is described, probably reflecting Henderson's own first-hand experiences, gives the story a fascinating and believable world for the characters to cause havoc in. Despite the ambitious length and delicate line that comes with writing about teenage angst without sounding too clichéd and trite, Henderson is able to make the read interesting enough to see how it will play out.

  • Madelyn Marie
    2019-03-10 10:52

    DNF 71% life's too short to finish books you don't want to read

  • Chris
    2019-03-23 13:45

    File this book under "I can't believe I wasted five days of my reading life on this book." And be forewarned, this review can be titled, "Tell us what you really think, Chris!" After a streak of four-star books, some of which may end up in my “best of” pile for 2011, I selected a dud. I picked this up last week after seeing it on the New York Times’s “Best of 2011” list, it was one of the top five fiction books of the year. Sadly, that wasn’t the case with me. A first-time novelist, Henderson brings us into the 1980s, where two sixteen-year-old boys, with no real parents or direction in life, attend a New Year’s Eve party and one dies of a drug overdose. (I’m not giving anything away, it’s on the jacket.) This leads to a series of life events that takes the main character, Jude (his sister’s name is Prudence) from Vermont to New York City and back and forth throughout the book. Henderson creates this world of “straight edged” young people (vegans, no drugs, punk rock) and hippie dippie out of touch parents; her writing is very good and I oddly enough found this a compelling and quick read, yet I couldn't care for any of the main characters. I wondered why certain things happened, and she kept introducing outsiders into the intimate circle, letting them in for a minute, then having them exit fairly quickly. While there was one main story, there were several stories off of that, which, in the end were resolved, but I found distracting. I grew up in Vermont in the 1970s and 1980s as is portrayed in this book, and while I know there is the general perception that everyone ate brown rice, let their children run around naked, and everyone was free to be you and me, I felt her some of her illustrations were based more on stereotypes instead of reality. Certainly there were/are people like that, and I'm not sure if she grew up here (her main city is based on Burlington, and although all names were changed, she definitely has a familiarity with the city), but it saddened me that she chose to go the route of pot-smoking, orgy-going parents who let their children do what they want. Of course, I need to let this go, but it sort of raised my ire. I almost never finish books I'm not enjoying, but I kept with this, hoping for some sort of glimmer of light or at least a reward for finishing this terribly depressing and dark read. Never happened.

  • John
    2019-03-06 08:58

    In "Ten Thousand Saints" Eleanor Henderson has written the quintessential novel of New York City's East Village in the late 1980s. She truly has breathed life into the East Village's recent storied past, and has transformed that neighborhood into a character as vividly realized as her novel's people. She has rendered for the reader a most memorable fictional walking tour through East Village, allowing oneself to become attuned almost immediately to its distinctive sights and sounds. While some have compared it favorably with Jonathan Lethem's "Fortress of Solitude", Henderson's novel is a far more compelling, far more engrossing and far more successful depiction of the East Village than I have seen from Lethem's fictional portrayals of Brooklyn. Hers is a novel replete with flawed, quite captivating, characters, but these are ones who will linger long in your memory thanks to her elegant prose, so rich in its sincerity and compelling descriptions of its characters, especially the adolescents who are this novel's main protagonists. "Ten Thousand Saints" is a superb blend of personal odyssey and coming of age, perhaps our generation's "Catcher in the Rye". The wayward adopted son of two hippie parents, Jude Keffry-Horn seems destined to follow in his father's footsteps as a juvenile pot-smoking junkie in a rural Vermont town dominated by his fellow lawless troubled teens. When his best friend Teddy succumbs to a drug overdose, Jude embarks on a personal odyssey back to the city of his birth where he will find salvation via punk music, the East Village's skinhead culture and his friendships with Teddy's brother Johnny, and Eliza, the sophisticated daughter of Di, a former ballerina and his father Les's long-time girlfriend. Yet it is an odyssey fraught with peril that begins tragically with Teddy's death and yet, ends most promisingly, in an unexpected pregnancy and birth. In "Ten Thousand Saints" Henderson has not only written a mesmerizing literary debut, but also one that definitely ranks among this year's best American novels. (Reposted from my 2011 Amazon review)

  • Sarah
    2019-03-15 10:00

    Before reading:This is the first novel of a talented woman who I became friends with when we were both knee-high, running down a dirt road in Florida chasing our bigger brothers. I am terrifically proud of her and can't wait for my copy to arrive in the mail.After reading:So, with a full disclaimer that I know and love the author, here's what I thought:I have to admit, a book about punk rockers, NYC, drugs, and straight edge (which was a totally new concept to me) is not really in my realm of experiences. I am a mostly happy--mostly square--Midwestern mama who loves her flowerbeds and her dogs and sneaks whole grain flour into her brownies on occasion. There are flower seeds--not bongs--in my mini greenhouse.The start of the book was hard for me to engage with, amid all of the details of drugs and fights and bad behavior, but the characters and their conflicts and their parents and their regrets and their hopes drew me in. I was captivated by the unique settings and lifestyles. The characters were imperfect and flawed and real, and the situations did not resolve themselves any more neatly than they do in real life. I usually dislike books with ambiguous endings, but in this case, I actually appreciated it. I liked being able to project where the whirling characters would land as life spun ahead of them. As another reviewer commented, this is not a book that will fit everyone. But, I am glad that my connection to the author slipped me past my reservations about the subject matter. sarah

  • Bert
    2019-03-21 09:53

    The premise was good; coming-of-age, New York in the Eighties, straight-edge hardcore punks with tattoos...but I wasn't convinced. It didn't know what it wanted to be. No real insight into the scene or the era, and Henderson's depiction of drugs was prissy, and the dialogue was strained - the whole thing could've used some serious editing. It wasn't awful or anything, but by the end of it all I felt very little. Which is not ideal, as the cover is classy and New York Times seems to have been wetting itself about it.

  • Dileri
    2019-03-01 13:01

    Quite awful. Felt very researched and didn't ring true for me at all. The writer throws so many topics and problems at the characters and none of them seem probable or get resolved in any sort of satisfactory way. At least I didn't spend too much time on it.

  • Tim The Enchanter
    2019-03-23 10:02

    I abandoned this at 50 pages. I wasn't enjoy the tone of the story and could not relate to the characters or the content. If you like stories about young kids drug addict parents, no prospects who spend their day wandering aimlessly and taking drugs, then you might like this book.

  • Good Books Good Friends
    2019-02-24 06:46

    Un bon 4,5

  • Nadine
    2019-03-01 07:08

    Some characters were stronger (Jude, Johnny, Harriet, Les, Rooster) than others (Eliza, Di) but overall, a really affecting look at lost kids and the straight edge movement in the late 80's. I got a visceral feel for the kids' life in Vermont, and in the East Village, but the straight edge music scene seemed less real to me - more described than felt. I wish I got to know Eliza as well as Jude and Johnny.

  • christa
    2019-03-02 12:00

    Eleanor Henderson’s novel “Ten Thousand Saints” starts with a condensed version of the one-crazy-night premise from which entire films are built. It’s a lazy New Year’s Eve day of smoking, huffing, drinking and snorting for Teddy and Jude. The inseparable teen-aged besties are skateboarders with next to no social currency. Teddy’s mom has skipped town and he’s probably been lied to that his dad is dead. Jude was adopted and lives with his hippie mom, who is a glassblower, and his kind of bitchy barely-younger sister. His adoptive father ditched out years ago and lives in New York City, where he is hot and heavy with a former ballerina who has a cocaine-curious high-school aged daughter, Eliza. Eliza is planning her first visit to the boys’ small Vermont town to meet the not-quite step brother. The trio ends up at a party where Jude’s mouth gets him in trouble with some older kids. While he’s getting bound and urine-stained, Teddy is in the bathroom having his first go-round with both Coke and sex. Later that night he will take a few puffs off something poisonous, following Jude’s lead, and die. Meanwhile, somewhere in Eliza’s lady parts, sperm meets egg. Jude goes a little crazy, first drowning himself in weed, then pissing off a dealer and high-tailing it for New York City, finding Teddy’s older brother and adopting a straight-edge lifestyle complete with a homemade X tattoo on his hand. Preggers Eliza joins the threesome and develops a faux relationship with one of the boys. This all turns into a portrait of NYC’s straight-edge scene, the vegan, no-drugs, no-drinking, no-caffeine group that is making its way through this sub-set of the rock ‘n’ roll scene while also touching on the topic of AIDS. This book is … okay-ish. It’s a lot of back and forth -- from Vermont to New York and back to Vermont and then New York. Travel always seems so unnecessary in novels, just something to do to characters to throw them into a new situation. Plus there are some weird turns. Jude learns he might have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome -- though it doesn’t play into anything. The band goes on a half-assed tour. Teddy’s older brother takes up the issue of New York City’s proposed curfew. I don’t know. I’d watch this movie on a lazy Saturday afternoon and it wouldn’t result in self-loathing over the wasted day. But mostly it was just okay.

  • Diane
    2019-02-20 05:53

    I had heard good things about this book, but wasn't sure I'd be interested in the coming-of-age story of straight edge teens in the late 1980s New York City. Boy, was I wrong.Henderson has such compassion for her characters- Jude, the drug-using boy in love with a girl who slept with his best friend Teddy, Eliza, the lost rich girl with a secret, Johnny, Teddy's straight edge musician brother hiding from himself- that you feel like you know these people and care deeply about what happens to them. Even Teddy, who only exists for 72 pages yet whose presence influences all of the main characters, is so vivid, I felt I knew him well.The minor characters are well drawn too; I particularly liked Jude's estranged father who left his family behind years ago, and although he faithfully sent support checks, checked out of his son and daughter's emotional life. Henderson has created this world that I had no idea about, the straight edge world of young people living in poverty on the Lower East Side of New York City in the late 1980s. It was a much different world there than it is today. They live with the homeless, violence and drug dealers in Tompkins Park, and with the fear and ignorance spawned by the AIDS epidemic.There is one scene, a fight scene, that echoes S.E. Hinton's classic book, "The Outsiders", and I loved her homage to that story about teens also on the outside of mainstream society. (One of the characters even mentions the book later in the story.) This book will appeal to all of us who grew up loving "The Outsiders".Part of the story takes place in Vermont, and Henderson creates that world with as much care. I felt like I was dropped into this story, these worlds that I knew little about. Great fiction can open up your mind and heart to characters and new ideas, and "Ten Thousand Saints" is great fiction. It is one of the best books I have read this year, and i can't wait for more from Eleanor Henderson.I read this book in two sittings, I just couldn't put it down. These characters manage to crawl inside your heart, and when they make bad decisions and mess things up, you just want to hug them and tell them it will be alright.

  • Janice Decker
    2019-03-04 06:01

    Obviously, Henderson is a strong writer. She wrangles a large cast, multiple plot complications, and yet delivers gorgeous imagery as a punctuation to her narrative, but it never feels like the images are coming directly from her -- rather, they come from the characters.However -- and this is a huge 'however' because this book wound up on most "Best of 2011" lists -- this is a messy book. I could identify two entire subplots that added little to the overall surge of the story and only confused matters. I'm an attentive reader yet I was frequently confused about which characters were currently onstage and what their backstory was. Many of the characters were mere names. The author seems proud of her knowledge of male adolescent hygiene, or lack of -- pages of this stuff. And for a 'Best Of' book to sport usages like "off of" throughout the book is unforgivable. Upon finishing the book, I was struck by the feeling that the author wanted to commemorate the existence of the punk downtown culture in NY in the 80's. OK, worthy goal. But as a result, many characters existed to serve the story and not the other way around. We have all the usual suspects: the potheads, the punks, the unwashed male teenagers, the early victims of AIDS, the pregnant teenage girl, most of them musicians. We never get the music at all, although this is supposed to be a through-line that supports the story. Add in adoptees, missing parents, birth mysteries -- that's a lot of weight to carry. If the book had been shorter and tighter, perhaps some of the main characters could have carried a more focused story. I'm sure we'll see that better novel from Henderson in the future.

  • Maggie Wyatt
    2019-03-09 12:05

    I chose this book because the NYtime listed it as one of the top 5 books of 2011. When I started it, I had my doubts--a story about teenage boys who were druggies set in the 80's was not really in my zone of interest. But I found myself quickly drawn in and actually finished the book in 3 days. There were some superficial coincidences and solutions, but the characters and their struggles seemed real to me. There were so many conflicts: the rejection felt by children who feel abandoned by a parent, the clash of generations, the struggle to forgive oneself for someone else's death, the drama of facing a teenage pregnancy...but I think Henderson did a good job of showing how rebellious teenagers grow up as they begin see the gray shades among the good and evil characters they have cast in their lives. Jude's move from drugs to straight edge, from hating his father to relying on his father, from his alliance with Johnny to their break--the main conflict in all this is in Jude's realizing that the labels he has affixed to these people and his relationships with them do not always stick. But mainly, I just wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen to them all. And I am happy to find out that, for the most part, things turned out OK.

  • Julie
    2019-03-23 05:56

    There was almost too much to like about this novel, too many points of connection for me. The narrative, set almost entirely in the 1980s, ricochets from Vermont to the East Village to NJ and back again. From glass-blowing, pot dealing middle-aged hippies to straight-edged kids in a mosh pit at an all-ages hard core matinee at CBs, my brand of nostalgia is on uncanny display here. St. Mark's Place? Trash and Vaudeville? The Tompkins Square Park riot of '88? They are precious and important, not gratuitous, which is how I expect to find them in fiction. Who is this author? How come our paths haven't crossed by now? How does she unroll such gorgeous sentences? With nary a wasted moment,Henderson even earns the right to do stupid things with plot elements (like when she has the Krishna tattoo artist straight-edge kid swiftly and conveniently dig up his dead half-bro's long estranged dad). I even loved the cornball ending, fast fowarded to 2006, last week of CBGBs, Bad Brains concert. Mosh pit into which the now 40-year-old straight edge kid flings himself. Wish I'd written such a beautiful indulgence myself.

  • Linda Lackey
    2019-03-04 11:59

    This book was an unexpected surprise from David for Christmas. I think he selected it for me because it is reminiscent of my son's high school straight edge, tattoo fascination days. The novel begins with the fatal drug overdose of a high school boy, Teddy, on New Year's eve. Teddy and his best friend, Jude, ended up at a party with Eliza, who gives Teddy cocaine and becomes pregnant with Teddy's child before his body is found the next morning. The novel seemed a bit preachy in places - certainly these character lives were messed up, but Hare-Krishna-to-the-rescue did not seem the most obvious solution. The book takes on drugs, homosexuality, AIDS, parenting, adoption, tattooing and the hard-core music scene. I stayed interested to the end - although the last chapter (two pages) seemed a forced conclusion. The book has received much praise - New York Times Book Review – Top 10 Books of 2011; New York Times – 100 Notable Books of 2011;New Yorker – A Year’s Reading selection; O Magazine – Top 5 Fiction; Amazon – Top 10 Debut Fiction. And it was a great Christmas present.

  • K.D. McQuain
    2019-03-09 05:53

    I wanted to like it, I tried to like it, I just couldn't. It didn't take long for me to realize that the author had no first hand experience with her subject matter and was relying on interviews and research. That doesn't usually bother me, there aren't a lot of people who are experienced with zombies for example, but this was closer to home for me. However, setting all that aside, the story didn't seem to go anywhere. Henderson threw everything she could at this story (drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, parental abandonment, homelessness, AIDS) hoping something would strike a nerve. It all fell flat with me. I should have cared about the characters, but I couldn't. I was more invested in some of the minor characters who hardly got any page time. I got a chance to watch the trailer for the film adaptation and couldn't help feeling that if the character of Jude looked and acted like that, he would have been eaten alive.

  • Quince Winstyn
    2019-02-22 11:07

    I really should have given this book four stars. I think I am not being that honest with my rating. The third of Ten Thousand Saints was just depressing. A drugged kid who's drugged friend dies, and he doesn't want to stop drugs. So, dude, I mean Jude, Teddy DIED! And you still want that pot? Forget about it, was the thought I had, but I soldiered on. I was really glad I did because my feelings went from a mediocre one star to a blazing five. Proof...1. I actually cared about Eliza's kid.2. Jude was so attaching.3. Johnny divorced with Eliza. God, I hate Johnny!4. Jude goes straight edge.5. Eliza and her mom make up.Five points, so five stars it is for me!

  • Jeanine
    2019-03-03 07:50

    Ambitious. Explores a great deal of social issues.Bittersweet.Spot on eighties pop culture details and sibling banter. Excellent historical and geographical detailing. Initially the detailed accounts of recreational drug use made me reluctant to read on. I am so glad I persevered. I was rewarded with an in-depth touching story. Definitely a New York City education.Definitely a life lesson.A reminder that our decisions carry consequence but also that there is also a new day.Hopeful. Refreshing.

  • Kate
    2019-03-13 12:01

    ny times top 10 of the year? i don't get it. it's intriguing and well-written, but not awe-inspiring or particularly moving. i didn't care about any of the characters. 3 stars might be too much -- 2.5?