17 April 2009

Ten Mile River

by Paul Griffin

The Text Publishing Company. Young Adult. Paperback rrp $19.95

Here is a novel for teenagers who like to live on the edge, like a bit of rap and enjoy American culture. Griffin takes the reader deep into the dark and seedy side of Manhattan. You may have to re-read sentences and add a bit of “beat” to understand what is being said but the language makes it more real and in-your-face confronting.

Ten Mile River is the story of two teenage boys, Ray and José who have escaped foster care and juvenile detention centres for most of their young lives. They call each other “brothers”. Ray is a large shy boy and is smart. He likes to read. José is the street-smart boy who looks out for Ray and calls the shots. Ray would do whatever José says.

José and Ray spend their days hanging on the streets of Manhatten. They live in an abandoned building deep within Manhatten’s Ten Mile River Park. Their home is furnished from debris from the streets plus items they have stolen including a large screen television and games. At night they do ‘go to work’, doing jobs such as breaking car windows for a windshield repairer, or stealing cars for a mechanic. Life is good.

But then the boys meet Trini. Ray falls for her immediately but knows that José will win her. José always gets the girls. This time it is different for both Ray and José. Trini is the perfect girl in Ray’s eyes. He worships her shyly as a friend but José also feels she is very special and starts to treat her the way a girl should be treated. Trini could be the turning point for both boys.

Ten Mile River is a thought provoking read about children on the street, whether it is the US or even here in Australia. This is a good story, complete in itself, but I would like to know that there is another story coming out to finish where Griffin has left off!

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