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Ten Thousand Saints

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  6,900 ratings  ·  829 reviews
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 New ...more
Hardcover, 388 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Ecco (first published June 1st 2011)
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Ann Kopitzke The Conclusion I drew at the end of the books was the Jude's unnamed wife was Eliza. I could be wrong though, but the pierced ear part led me to that …moreThe Conclusion I drew at the end of the books was the Jude's unnamed wife was Eliza. I could be wrong though, but the pierced ear part led me to that belief(less)

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Will Byrnes
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 pos ...more
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: shelve-it
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 sit ...more
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Elaine Lincoln
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 frus ...more
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
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) ...more
Sorayya Khan
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Feb 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: pub-2011
“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 re
Jul 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 onl ...more
Larry H
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jul 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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’
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
DNF 71% life's too short to finish books you don't want to read ...more
Jul 18, 2012 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 wet ...more
Aug 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-reads
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 br
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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 h ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ex
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it

Ambitious. Explores a great deal of social issues.
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.
Maija Shea
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
I was pleasantly surprised by Ten Thousand Saints, honestly. It had a bit of a slow start, but I grew to love the characters and become invested in what was to come in the story. I really loved Johnny’s character because of his kind heart, yet he still had flaws like a real person would. I wish that Ravi had adopted Eliza’s son, but I understand Eliza’s reasoning for not wanting that as well. I do wonder what Eliza is living like in the epilogue that takes place in 2006, and I wish we could have ...more
Tim The Enchanter
Mar 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
A coming of age book which doesn't dumb things down and has proper sentence construction (no 3 word sentences here!!). A novel inhabited by old hippies, punks, pot sellers, the homeless, yuppies and New York City. We see the straight edge music scene through the eyes of Jude, a teen who seems to be on a self destruct course until he meets Johnny who introduces him to the straight edge way of life. We witness the beginnings of change in New York, the AIDs epidemic, the highs and lows of life in a ...more
Snow White
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
The writing on this was stunning from a grammar an vocabulary point of view. Every scene was lifelike and detailed. Unfortunately, this book just wasn't fun to read.Each time, I had to force myself to pick it up again. The characters were unlikeable and I couldn't relate to them, and the plot was thin and almost soap opera like. Nothing really happens, there is no point to speak of, and all the Indian symbolism was too heavy handed. I'll not be reading Henderson again. ...more
Jun 16, 2015 rated it liked it
When I saw a description involving the LES in the 80s and hardcore punk, well I knew I had to read this. And I enjoyed this. But I have a lot of thoughts, and can't help but wonder if when you know a lot about something it makes reading a fictional story about that much harder to do. I found myself questioning the time details - the time line and the locations. Was Venus Records really on St. Marks in 1987 or was it on W. 8th? Hardcore shows at ABC NO RIO in 1987 - I don't think so. But in the e ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Dec 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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 ...more
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
Janice Decker
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 m
Maggie Wyatt
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012
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 paren ...more
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 80s
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 g ...more
Linda Lackey
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 - certainl ...more
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“Jude's desire for girls was indiscriminate feverish and complete he wanted them all equally and he wanted them not at all. Blondes and brunettes big ones or small ones - they were cold fragile impenetrable creatures all desirable as they were undesirable all perfumed and pretty.” 10 likes
“He, Teddy and Eliza entered the room just as someone was snapping a picture: they would be forever captured in a photo they didn't belong in, blinking against the flash.” 9 likes
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