Title : There There
Author: Tommy Orange
Genre: Literary Fiction, History, Political Fiction
Published: June 5, 2018 Alfred A. Knopf
My Rating 4/5
Orange’s writing style grabs you from the beginning and does not let go. The book starts out strong with a prologue that hits you with a bunch of unwhitewashed historical facts, setting the honest tone for the rest of the novel.
At first I thought the book consisted of independent essays, but in the second half the stories start to converge bringing the stories together. Each character tells a unique story about self-discovery, but these are not stories of reservation life by stereotypical Indians as portrayed by the media, they are the stories of 12 Native Americans trying to figure out what life in Oakland means to them. Some of the characters were raised in Native American culture, while others are bicultural or have only a name, filled with a long history, to learn about their heritage.
Orange is unforgiving and approaches subjects such as substance abuse, rape, and domestic violence without holding back, but what amazed me the most was the tenderness and understanding in which he writes about the characters.
Not every story is great but the good ones are fantastic, emotional, and highly effective. This fast paced and thought provoking novel reaches its apogee when all the characters meet in the Powwow and then ends abruptly. While I would have liked for the story to continue and end with a conclusion, I believe the ending was realistic in that it’s a good representation of life.
The only advice I would pass on is the one given to me: keep a list with a name of the charecters to rembember who is who.