It is New Year's Eve, 1987. For fifteen-year-old Teddy Michaels, it is a very significant day. He must find a new home following the disappearance of his mother and celebrate his best friend Jude's birthday by taking as many drugs as Jude can find. But he will also lose his virginity – to Jude's step-sister, Eliza – and his life.
Teddy's death will have a profound effect on the people he leaves behind. His brother Johnny, who has moved to New York and joined the Straight Edge scene, Jude, who will finally have to face his own demons, and Eliza, who will find herself responsible for both taking and giving a life.
Winding its way through Vermont, New York, the Straight Edge music scene and the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Ten Thousand Saints is a fierce, brilliant depiction of all types of love and its flaws, of life, loss and pain; a profoundly human story that explores how one moment of carelessness can impact the lives of so many.
About the Author
Eleanor Henderson lives in Ithaca, where she is an assistant Professor at Ithaca college. She earned her MFA from the University of Virginia in 2005 and her writing has appeared in several American publications including Agni, North American Review, Ninth Letter, and Columbia, among others.
"Henderson's novel recalls all the sweat and fury of coming of age. . . It's also a beautifully rendered study of devotion-to a cause, a religion, a scene, and one's own family-and all the conflict and sacrifice that devotion entails."--The Millions "Eleanor Henderson is in possession of an enormous talent which she has matched up with skill, ambition, and a fierce imagination. The resulting novel, TEN THOUSAND SAINTS, is the best thing I've read in a long time. "--Ann Patchett, bestselling author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder "Ten Thousand Saints is a whirling dervish of a first novel--a planet, a universe, a trip. As wild as that may sound, wonder of wonders, the book is also carefully and lovingly created... [Henderson] writes with great compassion but does not flinch"--Los Angeles Times "Absorbing...Tone is just one element Henderson balances well.... She also packs her coming-of-age story with grit and a generational wallop.... In this naturalistic and assured novel, Henderson crafts a satisfying structure...psychological astuteness is a key pleasure of Ten Thousand Saints."--Cleveland Plain Dealer "Proudly unsentimental...Henderson zeroes in on the essentially malleable nature of these teenagers without squashing them into an indistinguishable mass..., Henderson parcels out its history in tantalizing images and snatches of conversations, holding back where her protagonists might themselves miss the significance of their surroundings."--The Onion AV Club "I loved TEN THOUSAND SAINTS; again and again I was stopped cold by beautiful chapter-ending sentences. I remember this Manhattan, the Sunday matinees at CB's, the rage over Yuppies colonizing the East Village. "--Dean Wareham, lead singer of Galaxie 500 and Luna, author of BLACK POSTCARDS "Henderson's debut novel bursts out of the gate with all of the drive and sensory assault of the punk music that infuses it.... It's an auspicious debut, and gives us reason to hope that Henderson will mature as satisfyingly as her subjects do."--Boston Globe "[An] empathetic novel of wayward youth and their wayward parents...Henderson proves herself to be an expert ethnographer; her detail work is phenomenal....characterizations demonstrate Henderson's greatest skill. Even the ones who receive comparatively little stage time are always precisely defined... Henderson's affection for [the characters] is palpable."--Washington Post "Rarely has a coming-of-age novel captured a time and place-here the late 1980s on Manhattan's Lower East Side-with such perfect pitch. Grade: A"--Entertainment Weekly "Countless coming-of-age novels have been written. When a truly exceptional story of this nature does come along, it's a significant literary event... Ten Thousand Saints is memorable for its boldness and ambition, its empathetic prose, and the troubled souls who discover unlikely forms of redemption."--Dallas Morning News "[The] reader smells the sweat, blood, urine, beer; hears the crowds screaming; feels herself at times flung into the mosh pit - Henderson shepherds her characters with blatant affection...raucous, wounded, sweet, spasmodically desperate, [Saints] comes to feel like a modern, drug-and-rock-riddled version of Peter Pan..."--San Francisco Chronicle "TEN THOUSAND SAINTS is funny, touching, artistic, surprising, lovely, eye-opening, and very, very wise."--Arthur Phillips, author of PRAGUE and THE TRAGEDY OF ARTHUR "[A] rare debut that, with a flinty kind of nostalgia, invokes both the gods and demons of a generation."--Vogue "Highbrow/Brilliant: All the all-star sentences in Eleanor Henderson's punk-rock-teen novel Ten Thousand Saints."--New York Magazine Approval Matrix "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.... She is never ironic or underwhelmed; her preferred mode is fierce, devoted and elegiac."--Stacy D'Erasmo, New York Times Book Review, Cover Review "[Henderson] has a perfect ear for conversation between siblings; the way a lazy spat can turn into a grudging moment of closeness. And the euphoria of the straight edge movement that Jude and Johnny embrace suffuses the novel with a reckless, glib joy...a bittersweet, lovely book."--NPR.org "One of the Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2011...[A] raucous first novel"--New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row "The best and most lyrically written coming-of-age novel of the year."--The Daily Beast/Newsweek Writers' Best Books of 2011 "An irresistibly rich and engrossing novel...poignant, complex...Henderson brilliantly evokes the gritty energy of New York City in the '80s, and the violent euphoria of the music scene. The hard-edged settings highlight the touching vulnerability of young characters."--O magazine, Best Fiction 2011 "In Ten Thousand Saints, Eleanor Henderson's dï¿½but novel, the ghosts of St. Marks are brought back to life...Henderson's book reads in part like an elegy: she follows her characters from 1987 to 2006, long enough to capture the end of the era and its strange aftermath."--New Yorker Book Bench Blog