Ten Mile River

Ten Mile River

4.3 17
by Paul Griffin

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A stunning debut novel about survival and friendship on the streets of New York City. Best friends Ray and Jose are not your typical thirteen-year-olds. They’ve escaped foster care and juvenile detention centers to live on their own together in an abandoned building located near Manhattan Park called Ten-Mile River. With no use for school or families,… See more details below


A stunning debut novel about survival and friendship on the streets of New York City. Best friends Ray and Jose are not your typical thirteen-year-olds. They’ve escaped foster care and juvenile detention centers to live on their own together in an abandoned building located near Manhattan Park called Ten-Mile River. With no use for school or families, street-smart Jose and bookish, introspective Ray have everything they need in each other. They are closer than brothers until they meet Trini. She’s smart, beautiful, and confident, 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. This is Paul Griffin’s first novel, and his spare moving prose and uncanny ear for authentic dialogue is guaranteed to garner many fans.

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)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
590L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

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