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Ten Mile River Hardcover – June 12, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 590L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Kentucky Bluegrass Awards 2010, Grades 9-12
  • Hardcover: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Dial (June 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803732848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803732841
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,993,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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It's a wonderful story of friendship and survival.
Joey Zanca
And it's the kind of book that young people can relate to; and it's an easy but compelling read for young people of all ages.
Frank J. Schorn
I read this book in 2 days and caught my breath twice in doing so!
Kathleen G. Whelan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Paul Griffin nails this authentic yarn* about Ray and José, two teenagers who try to stay one step ahead of the law while living the high life in their shack by the Hudson river.

* "There was things he stretched, but mainly he told the truth."

They are torn between their enjoying their independent, criminal life and the civilizing influences of Yolanda, a Puerto Rican hair dresser, who offers them longer term, legitimate opportunities.

Ray is a thoughtful and complex character. As the novel opens, he is happy go lucky, naïve, but intelligent. As the story develops, he shows us his compassionate and moral sides. He speaks ambivalently about his own crimes, but the question is whether he will act on his words and change his ways.

In the end, as a result of his poor choices, he loses the people that are everything to him. Doors shut in front of him. Alone finally, Ray sets off in a new direction, like Huckleberry Finn lighting out for the Territory. We can't be certain that Ray has learned his lesson once and for all, and we are not told what happens to him, but we have reason to be hopeful.

Ten Mile River is 21st century Twain: the dialect, the close escapes, fishing for their dinner, a near-drowning, even the floating dead bodies. This one belongs in a high school curriculum.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joey Zanca on August 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my teenage son, but I started reading it and couldn't put it down. It's a wonderful story of friendship and survival. As a mother, my heart breaks for how different the Jose and Ray's lives may have been if they had been born to caring parents. Paul Griffin did a superb job of bringing these boys alive to me and capturing my heart. Great first book. Keep 'em coming! I guess I'll let my son read it now...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richie Partington VINE VOICE on July 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Some gangbanger leaned out of a bass-booming, cruising Mercedes, chucked a Dunkin' Donuts bag into the street. A flock of lean pigeons dropped down on the fresh trash.
"'How'd I get here?' Ray said to the pigeons.
"The pigeons didn't give a damn about Ray. They pecked that Dunkin' waste as if it were manna."

We never do learn how fourteen-year-old Ray got there -- how he ended up parentless or how he had originally fallen in with fifteen-year-old Jose. The pair are homeless-but-not-exactly-homeless in New York City: They have discovered and fixed up an old abandoned railroad stationhouse hidden deep in the woods of a West Harlem park. They've tapped into a streetlight for electricity and into the hub of a nearby apartment building for high speed cable service. They've dragged home an assortment of used-but-working appliances other people have thrown away and have stolen themselves a big screen TV. They've also attracted a pack of sweet, abandoned pit bulls. Occasionally they have to temporarily abandon ship when random pipe heads stumble upon the stationhouse and briefly hunker down to cook their methamphetamine.

But all in all, "As long as they kept a low profile they could do what they wanted, and they did."

Ray is a large, overweight, contemplative, and compassionate kid. He is also an obsessive reader and collector of information. Jose is the opposite -- small and ripped, a player, and a master of malapropisms. He's a functionally illiterate know-it-all adolescent hoodlum who is always scheming and never worrying "about what rotten thing might happen next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Julie Parmegiani on June 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Remember Holden Caulfield trying in vain to remove the graffiti from the bathroom stalls in CATCHER IN THE RYE? Imagine him today as a homeless teen in NYC......a sensitive youth in an insensitive world just trying to survive.

That is the world Paul Griffin creates for us in TEN MILE RIVER, the first book by this promising new author. It's tough, raw, harsh, and unlike anything I have ever encountered living in the suburbs.

However, having spent a summer as a teacher at South Philadelphia HS, the book rings true for me. I only wish it had been part of my curriculum! The students would love it. Teachers pay attention; this is the "hook" you have been looking for in your classroom! It's a quick read filled with folks you learn to care about while exposing you to some rough realities of homeless living.

Ray and Jose have survival skills that would make Outward Bound grads envious. Who among us could do as well?

My only disappointment came when the book ended. I want to know more about these characters!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sue S. Lee on June 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
My first thought when I finished this book was that I need to get a copy for my teenage nephew who doesn't like to read. Even he wouldn't be able to help himself from getting immersed in the fascinating and crazy world that Jose and Ray inhabit. The sharply written dialogue really brings the characters to life and you can't help but root for them. I couldn't believe it when I got to the end, I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I am looking forward to the next novel from this talented author.
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