Eleanor Henderson Novel Chosen as First-Year Reading for Class of 2016

President Tom Rochon has announced that “Ten Thousand Saints,” the debut novel by assistant professor of writing Eleanor Henderson, has been selected for the First-Year Reading Initiative for the 2012–13 academic year. The book has earned across-the-board praise for its sensitive portrayals of youthful rebellion and family dynamics.

“I take great pride — on behalf of the entire Ithaca College community — that one of our own faculty has written a book that has met with such success,” said Rochon. “The depth of its characters and its depictions of the life choices they make in their struggle to adulthood will give the members of our incoming class a great deal to reflect on as they move into the next phase of their own journeys.”

Rochon was joined by James Swafford, associate professor of English and coordinator of the initiative, in thanking the First-Year Reading committee, which reviewed a number of books in depth before recommending several potential choices.

“The committee nominated several excellent texts, including both classic and contemporary works, as possible FYRI selections for 2012,” said Swafford. “Rich in characterization and ideas, beautifully written, ‘Ten Thousand Saints’ will give the incoming students as well as the faculty and staff much to think about and discuss over the next academic year. I’m looking forward to joining in those discussions myself.”

Moving back and forth between 1980s-era New York City and small-town Vermont, the characters in “Ten Thousand Saints” — including drug-dealing parents and “straight edge” teens — struggle to create their own identities when life around them is turned upside down.

In addition to being named one of the top 10 books of 2011 by the “New York Times,” it was included on the year-end “best of” lists of outlets ranging from the “New Yorker” and “Newsweek/The Daily Beast” to and “O, The Oprah Magazine.”

“I’m thrilled and honored that my novel has been chosen for the first-year reading,” said Henderson. “Having served on the FYRI committee last year, I appreciate the careful reading the members, as well as the president, put into the selection process. I hope the incoming class of IC students finds the book worthwhile, and I can’t wait to be part of the conversation.”

Originally published in Intercom: Eleanor Henderson Novel Chosen as First-Year Reading for Class of 2016.