27 January 2012

Imprint Friday: Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson

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.

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.
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.

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."
The hardcover edition of Ten Thousand Saints was an Indie Next pick for July 2011 and made it to many best-of-2011 lists. To learn more about the Eleanor Henderson, visit her website.

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.

Ten Thousand Saints at Powell's
Ten Thousand Saints at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by HarperCollins / Ecco, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780062021212


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 1/27/12, 6:40 AM  

This sounds very different, but from what you wrote, I am very curious. Thanks for introducing us to this book.

Farin 1/27/12, 9:14 AM  

I read this in hardcover and really enjoyed it. So happy to see it's still getting lots of attention.

Zibilee 1/27/12, 11:05 AM  

When I was in high school, the straight edge kids were some of the scariest kids in the place. It would be interesting to read this book and see how that group is handled. I need to read this one!

Daryl 1/27/12, 1:52 PM  

I must really be out of touch .. I've never heard of straight edge and I live here in the heart of NYC

caite 1/27/12, 3:03 PM  

I am out of touch and never heard of this straight edge thing.
but wait...aren't kids rebelling suppose to be strange..so it would be logical.

bermudaonion 1/27/12, 3:16 PM  

I'd never heard of straight edge until I read Love Times Three - this sounds fascinating.

Julie P. 1/27/12, 3:19 PM  

This looks like a good one!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 1/28/12, 8:08 PM  

An unexpected form of rebellion!

Thanks for linking/quoting both "traditional" print reviews and bloggers in your Imprint Friday posts :)

Kailana 1/30/12, 5:14 PM  

I am intrigued by this book. I will have to check it out. :)

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