Ten Thousand Saints, by Eleanor Henderson
I tend to shy away from coming of age books involving drugs, mostly because I have little desire to read about someone else's messed up life. I'm incredibly glad I lifted this ban in order to read this fantastic novel. Henderson is the kind of writer you would imagine other writers being jealous of. Over and over again I read the sentence, "A vagina was a thing he had squeezed bloodily out of before being given away." Writers like Henderson leave me enthralled with language, with the enormity and immense beauty of what we can create out of merely 26 letters and a few rules. I cannot think of any way in which this book could have been better. The characters are gut-churningly empathetic, the setting is real as flesh and blood. None of the main characters are particularly likable, but Henderson manages to not let that impede your sympathy towards them. As Jude, the protagonist, realizes at the end of the book, each has had his or her own particular heartbreaks, not one is exempt. I applaud Henderson's deft skill in fashioning this gem of a novel, even if I am a little bit envious.