Sheila S. (Supply, NC)
Ten Thousand Saints
I didn't care for this book. The characters had few, if any, redeeming qualities. I found them and their life styles to be fairly repugnant. The author also used too many medical and social conditions - AIDS, fetal alcohol syndrome, ADHD, eating disorders, etc. - as well as the prevalent drug use - each new one became almost a cliche. I would not recommend this book to my book club.
Diane D. (Cape Elizabeth, ME)
Ten Thousand Saints is an interesting reflection of life in the 80's with multiple dysfunctional families and the issues they are dealing with. I thought the strongest issue dealt w/ was that of adoption. It started slow for me, but I was fully engaged by the end and cared for the characters.
Judith G. (Ewa Beach, HI)
Should have read it first
I picked up this book just after I finished reading Anne LaMott's "Imperfect Birds"....following that the angst of teenage druggies was too much. I'll try again later when there's some time between the two but for now I have to say I didn't like it and couldn't finish it.
Elizabeth K. (Dallas, TX)
A Lost Ensemble of Contemporary Characters
Eleanor Henderson is definitely a talented writer to watch. The young characters in this book are the ages of my adult children and I wanted to get a feel for what growing up in the '80s was like from a youthful perspective. The environment was different from our lives in suburban Dallas, yet the common denominator seemed to be the casual and almost unquestioning drug use that has pervaded so much of society. In this book the parents are drug users and dealers, aging hippies who neglect their children, even though they love them. A tragic death pushes the main character away from drugs but he seesaws to the opposite extreme by joining a clean living cult. There's a hint at the end of the book that he eventually finds his way to a happier, more balanced adult life, but overall this book left me feeling sad. Everyone portrayed - parents and children - lacks a moral compass and while recognizing they need one, life just happens as they drift. The writing was excellent and the author makes us feel compassion for her characters, but I hope her next book has characters with more of a sense of purpose than this ensemble displays. I guess this is how some Americans choose to live, but it's far from inspiring.
Eileen F. (Ephrata, WA)
A Tough Life
This book was an informative read of dysfunctional families, drug use, skate boarding, hard rock bands, altered relationships, and attempts at change. Perhaps, this book would interest young adults. As a senior reader, I felt that it was a wasted read.
Betsey V. (Austin, TX)
More sinners than saints
There's a lot of late eighties teenage shenanigans starting off this novel, a charged up kind of punk erudition, the urbane in-your-face stride of an anarchist. The tone and mood fit the era well, and the particular crowd that the reader is thrust into is intransigent, forceful, rough. A sizzling clash of cultures between the hippies and what we now know as Gen-X-ers ensues, as well as between hardcore and "straight-edge" (drug and sex-free) punk, a clash that is eventually sanded smoother as an understanding is reached between both countercultures, and hypocrisies are penetrated.
My only complaint is that it is too lengthy and repetitive at intervals. The hardcore punk rock music venues and the physical violence between some of these musicians got a little tedious. The author could have been pared it down 100 pages or so and still brandished a powerful story.
Definitely recommended to the Gen-X crowd, for its authenticity and story. There's a mocking quality that you have to accept, and lots of drugs. This is an author to watch. A classy debut.
Gary R. (Bolingbrook, IL)
And I thought the 70's were scary!
When I started this book I didn't realize I would lose a good three days in New York in the 80's.characters hold you and won't let go. A great story about people and families lost and trying to find something to hold on to. This book will suck you in! Great debut!