Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ten Thousand Saints

One of the most highly reviewed debut novels of 2011 seems to have stayed too far below the radar at the library for what it has to offer. Ten Thousand Saints is both shocking and familiar for anyone that has been a teenager, been part of a family, fell in love, or lived in the 80s. Honestly, if you’ve lived, something in this book will resonate with you. Eleanor Henderson, an assistant professor at Ithaca College, took nine years to construct this absolute gem of a book. It is one of the most honest and fair portrayals of teenage life that a reader can glean from a novel.

In the book, the untimely death of 15-year-old Teddy McNicholas serves as a catalyst for passionate change and coming of age. Though the book offers a bevy of unique characters, Teddy’s best friend, Jude, his brother, Johnny, and his ill-fated love interest, Eliza, create the protagonist army that leads the reader from Vermont to Manhattan's East Village during a pivotal point in subculture history. The lives of these young characters play out with the straight-edge movement and the AIDS crisis serving as a substantial backdrop to the generally confusing nature of growing up. Throw in a teen pregnancy, drugs, and crazy parents, then tie it all together with some great writing, and you have a poignant text that will keep you thinking long after the last page.

This book is definitely worth the time. Eleanor Henderson manages to interweave very real historic facts while simultaneously pulling the reader deep into the lives of the characters. I find it to be a thing of beauty when you walk away from a book feeling like you just lived it rather than read it.  

1 comment:

Eleanor Henderson said...

Thank you for this lovely review!