Ten Thousand Saints is based on the novel of the same name by Eleanor Henderson. Set in the 1980s, Jude Keffy-Horn (Asa Butterfield) is a teenage boy who lives in Vermont with his adoptive mother, Harriet (Julianne Nicholson), and sister, Prudence (Nadia Alexander). Mixed up in the complicated world of drugs and alcohol, his best friend, Teddy (Avan Jogia), dies of a drug overdose, leaving Jude devastated. Jude is eventually sent to Manhattan to reconnect with his father, Les (Ethan Hawke), and discovers kinship with Teddy’s half-brother, Johnny (Emile Hirsch).
He soon starts hanging out with Johnny’s group of straight-edge friends, that have strict no-drugs, no-sex, no-meat, and no-alcohol rules, keeping Jude out of trouble for the first time in years. When he finds out that Eliza (Hailee Steinfeld), the daughter of Les’ girlfriend, Di (Emily Mortimer), is pregnant with the child of deceased Teddy, he and Johny, along with Les, become Eliza’s rock as she struggles through pregnancy so early on in life. Meanwhile, Di struggles with her relationship with Les, and Harriet struggles with the prospect of her growing children. It is a coming-of-age story following three messed up teenagers and their equally messed up parents in 1987, the age of CBGBs, yuppies, and gentrification that culminated in the Tompkins Square Park riots.