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Ten Mile River

Ten Mile River

4.3 17
by Paul Griffin

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Best friends Ray and Jose are not your typical teenagers. They've escaped foster care and juvenile detention centers to live on their own together in an abandoned stationhouse in New York City's Ten Mile River Park. Ray and Jose are as close as brothers. But then they meet Trini, the smart, beautiful, and confident girl from their local barber shop, and they both fall


Best friends Ray and Jose are not your typical teenagers. They've escaped foster care and juvenile detention centers to live on their own together in an abandoned stationhouse in New York City's Ten Mile River Park. Ray and Jose are as close as brothers. But then they meet Trini, the smart, beautiful, and confident girl from their local barber shop, and they both fall for her immediately. As tension creeps into their relationship, Ray must struggle to find an identity separate from Jose and try to envision a future for himself beyond Jose and Ten Mile River.

"Griffin has a particular gift for dialogue that not only sounds authentic but also serves to define characters whom he knows inside and out. His is clearly a talent to watch." - Booklist, review of Ten Mile River

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Griffin makes a striking debut with this gritty, dialogue-heavy novel about two homeless boys. Ray and José, 14 and 15, have survived foster care and juvenile detention together, and now hide out from their parole officers in a burned-out stationhouse in New York City's Ten Mile River park. They make their way by stealing, working occasionally, and trying to stay under police radar. Ray is bigger and smarter (he reads anything he can, and especially likes physics), but José, "a proven matador," is boss. They are "friends to the end"-until Ray meets and falls for the beautiful Trini, who encourages both boys to go straight, like her. But Ray's view of himself and his understanding of loyalty also leads him to set up Trini with José. As Griffin illuminates Ray's often dangerous world, readers will feel for themselves Ray's dilemma and the difficulties he faces in choosing between José, drawn to the fast buck, and his own desires to make something of himself. The language is tough but convincing, the setting authentic, the characters memorable and their struggles played out with a complexity that respects the audience's intelligence. Ages 12-up. (June)

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VOYA - Francisca Goldsmith
Raymond and JosT keep house in an abandoned building on the Hudson River, ten miles north of the southern tip of Manhattan. Throw-away youth who have seen jail time, juvenile detention, probation, and failed foster care, they make money both outright illegally through petty and grand theft and in the gray area of exploited casual labor. At fifteen, JosT is the slick one, the ladies' man, the one with hopes set only as high as owning a motorcycle and reaching increasingly higher levels of Grand Theft Auto. Several months younger but much larger, Raymond has the soul of a scholar and would rather settle down than lead a life of crime. In this stunningly acute debut novel, Griffin brings these lost boys and their brutal physical and moral circumstances into clear and unwavering focus, sprinkling in credible amounts of hope without yanking them into a fairytale fix. Dialogue, adult and teen characters, dogs, and the city itself are rendered with authenticity and economy, making it an urgent read, with potential to absorb Raymond and JosT's peers as well as teens who are growing up with the things these boys do not have. There are abundant issues begging discussion here-friendship, salvation, and variations on economic vulnerability are a few-making the novel an ideal choice for book groups as well as personal reading. Reviewer: Francisca Goldsmith
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

Despite his intimidating build, 14-year-old Ray is a tongue-tied, sensitive street kid with a penchant for reading anything and everything, from Scientific American to Siddhartha. After a stint in juvie, he and his best pal, reckless and charming José, are "on their own and on the run." The teens squat in an old railway stationhouse by Ten Mile River in a wooded area of New York City, stealing what they need to survive and pulling small jobs for extra cash. When they befriend a girl and her hairdresser aunt, they have the chance to make a clean living, but their choices are complicated by their loyalty to one another. Like the works of Adam Rapp and K. L. Going, Griffin's novel is introspective street lit, an illumination of petty crime and parentless childhoods that's more gritty than glamorous. The realistic dialogue, which is often quite graphic and filled with sexual innuendo, propels the plot, and the author specializes in capturing the vernacular: "Psh, I'd go behind m' boy's back like that? Psh, insultin me, man." The boys come to life on the pages, as does their relationship, and their conversations are often laugh-out-loud funny. Though the threat of violence looms through most of the book, the author doesn't quite evoke the shock or fear he's going for. Still, the plot defies predictions, and some memorable scenes and the strongly drawn characters lift the story above other urban tales of woe. Fans of Paul Volponi, take note.-Emily R. Brown, Providence Public Library, RI

Kirkus Reviews
Debut novelist Griffin tries to capture life on the streets of New York but fails to deliver actual grit. Smart-but-fat Ray and stupid-but-sexy Jose live in squat luxury (cable, Playstation, no adults) and commit petty crimes in northern Manhattan and the Bronx without ever treading on anyone else's turf. Friendship and romance with a sassy Washington Heights girl, stints in juvie, attempts to go straight and various criminal escapades feel flat and the lack of any back story for the boys strips emotional resonance from their escapades. And it's all so easy: They get caught only for petty things rather than the crimes that would have real consequences, and even after six months locked up the only squatters in their squat are dead junkies. This smoothed-out and glamorized vision of life on the streets, chronicled in dated, sometimes forced slang tempered by purple prose ("puked a downpour of summer hail"), may appeal to suburban readers, but city-savvy teens will laugh at the fantasy. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
590L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Paul Griffin is an award-winning author and a screen writer. He lives in New York City, where he works with youths in low-income schools and juvenile detention centers.

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Ten Mile River 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
heinzbutterworth More than 1 year ago
i believe the book had a good plot but could have used something else to help it reach its full potential. the beggining started off good but the ending was awful i wish the author would have done something different with the ending the book couldve really used it. But all around the book was alright.Good for some cheap laughs. All in all i liked the book minus the ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very excited to read this after i read all the rave reviews but i gotta be honest, it just wasnt that good. I hated the ending too! I hate wasting time and money on books that are just ok at best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Midnightkit lets get back to camp he meowed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
its a good book and i would offer it to anyone that likes drama books
SteveKubiak More than 1 year ago
I felt that this book had its pros and its cons, therefore i rated it "good" and gave it 3 stars. When I first began reading the novel, I loved it. It started off with some action which always attracts attention, but then the novel got into some good background information of the characters. The plot development seemed very intriguing, and I was looking forward to a major turn of events that would lead the boys into some serious trouble. However, this never really happened. There are about 20-30 pages that deal with some action filled situations, but other than that, the book was very repetitive. I understand that repetition can be used in a positive way, but this was much more than that in my opinion, it got annoying. On the bright side, I loved the dialogue between the characters, I loved the tone that Paul Griffin wrote the novel in, and I loved the relationship Paul Griffin set up between the best friends, Jose and Ray. These aspects of the novel are what helped me keep reading and stay interested. The tone was very modern, which made it very easy for a teenager, like myself, to read. When I picked up this book and decided to read it, I was expecting an action packed novel that really looked deep inside the relationship between two best friends. I also knew that the boys might have lived a bit of a different lifestyle than I do. I was expecting some crime and misbehavior that may help me look at life in a different perspective. I was curious to see what different lifestyles there are out there, and how those kids might live their lives. The book satisfied these wants, with the exception of the action, that was scarce. All in all, it is a solid book. I recommend it to readers--teens in particular--who are interested in identity, finding yourself, relationships, and maybe want to see what kind of lives other people might be living.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cool book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A blessings is what I label 'Ten Mile River'. I could not put it down and once I finished I struggled with being selfish and reading it again right away, or sharing the wealth with my younger brother. I have not seen the book since (smiles). Please read, share, discuss, rinse and repeat!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very realistic picture of life in the city, both painful and tender. I enjoyed it from the first page and so did my teenage son.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, you're immediately immersed and feeling as though you're hanging with these kids. If you've never been to the Bronx, no worries, Mr Griffin paints a vivid picture, and you live it, feel it, see it! Your emotions get tossed around a bit.... real life can hurt, but what a debut book, can't wait for his next!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love your book!  The dialogue takes a little getting used to, but once I entered Ray's and Jose's world, I felt like I could completely relate...reading this book was like watching a movie that you don't want to end.  I caught my breath twice and you leave me wanting to know...where is Ray now!?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've already read Ten Mile River twice -- and I loved it. The characters are authentic and the writing is amazing. As a counselor for teens and as someone who has worked in urban settings with teens who are 'in the system' (as the author has), there were so many times when I just smiled and knew how achingly realistic this book is. There is a world out there that so many people have never known about -- and in that world there is a court system that unfortunately has failed so many of our kids. Ten Mile River not only describes the realities of living on the streets but does so with humanity and hope. I already recommended this book to our town librarian who is always looking for great YA literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel immerses you into the fascinating and crazy world that Jose and Ray inhabit. Ray's character feels so real, you immediately empathize and start rooting for him. I made the mistake of starting it late one night and couldn't wait to finish work the next day to get back to it and find out what happened.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A gem of a small book that quickly catapults you into the complicated lives and relationships of two homeless boys, the world they have created for themselves, their hopes, fears,the relationships they seek. Amazing how such a vibrant world is encompassed in such little space. YOu can't put it down and before you know it, it's over.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the first chapter, i was fully engaged in who these two boys were. Ray and Jose will make you laugh and cry...their characters are so full of life that you almost forget that they are fictional characters. The writing is simple yet full of emotion and detail. I loved this book...it's a great read not only for young adults but for old adults as well. :) I can see this book getting great word of mouth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my younger brother to try to get him into reading for the summer after reading a review about it on the Publisher's Weekly website and I always read the books first to make sure they're okay for him. I was completely blown away. I made him read it and he came to me and thanked me for the first time I can remember. He really related to it and these guys and it provided me with one of the best conversations I've ever had with my brother. So if the author is reading these, thank you.