Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Ecco books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
After Jude Keffy-Horn loses his best friend to a drug overdose, he gets clean but ultimately finds a way to use his new lifestyle as an act of rebellion. Eleanor Henderson's Ten Thousand Saints, out this week in paperback, focuses on Jude's discovery of straight edge and much more.
Here's the publisher's summary:
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 the 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.Because I haven't lived in a city in a long time, I was never that familiar with straight edge, which seemed a strange way to rebel and find a place separate from one's parents. Curiosity about that odd combination of teen anger and clean living will bring readers to the door, but it's Henderson's writing and characters that will draw them inside and keep them there until they've learned the whole story.
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 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.
Henderson's skill at characterizations is evident in this brief reading. In just a couple of minutes, we already have a sense of Jude's mother:
As you can tell from the reading, Ten Thousand Saints is about more than Jude and his friends and straight edge. One of the major themes of the novel is parent-child relationships and way different generations struggle to find their unique place in the world. Henderson also explores grief, young love, fitting in, growing up, and how the decisions we make every day can have far-reaching effects.
Ten Thousand Saints has been showered with praise. Here are just a few examples (click the links for the full reviews):
- Stacey D'Erasmo writing for the New York Times: "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."
- Adam Langer writing for the Washington Post: "Her characterizations demonstrate Henderson’s greatest skill. Even the ones who receive comparatively little stage time are always precisely defined."
- Diane writing at BookChickDi: "Great fiction can open up your mind and heart to characters and new ideas, and Ten Thousand Saints is great fiction."
Beth Fish Reads is proud to showcase Ecco books as a featured imprint on this blog. For more information about Ecco, please read the introductory note from Vice President / Associate Publisher Rachel Bressler, posted here on July 15, 2011. Find your next great read by clicking on Ecco in the scroll-down topics/labels list in my sidebar and by visiting Ecco books on Facebook and following them on Twitter.