There There

There There

A Novel

eBook - 2018 | First edition
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Oct 18, 2020

In There, There, the author weaves a collection of stories about fictional Native Americans who live primarily in Oakland into a novel. Each character illustrates various issues that urban Native Americans might face--substance abuse, broken families, joblessness, etc. At first, I thought the book was very much like a Sherman Alexie book, but as I read farther into the book, I realized that was not so. Although some of the themes are similar, Tommy Orange has his own voice. As a group, women also play a larger role than they do in many Alexie books. The last portion of the book, as it comes to its climax, is incredibly intense.

Oct 08, 2020

Occasional brilliance, but overall disappointing in terms of character development and story. I grew tired very quickly of the ghetto language and poor grammar. It is not beautifully written, but it tells the story of urban Native Americans in my local hometown of Oakland, a population we don’t hear from very often. I’m glad I read it but I won’t be in a big hurry to read his next one.

Oct 04, 2020

I've never read anything like this. Fresh, real characters, and Orange builds quiet tension throughout to the climax of the story. How did he do it? It's a knockout.

Sep 21, 2020

I listened to this in the car. It was very well written by the author. The characters are very believable. The story is very educational about the plight of the modern Native people. Also it is very sad and tragic.

Sep 09, 2020

A collection of beautifully written interweaving chapters that read like short stories. It's about Native Americans living in Oakland, slightly reminiscent of Louise Erdrich. The stories and characters come together for an explosive ending.

Sep 06, 2020

librirans at omaha recommended

Aug 17, 2020

Mar 09, 2020

Despite my Métis and Cree ancestry, I grew up with an English name and white face. I didn't experience prejudice, except from those who knew about Native blood. That's another story. Therefore, I began this book with high hopes, wanting Tommy Orange to express a facet of my experience almost as much as that of his Native characters in Oakland, California. What a disappointment. Orange begins his novel with a rant against white people that I found as unpleasant and unbalanced as the self-congratulatory lies told by many white-people historical accounts until recently. Hatred's hatred, and I cringe.

Having set the stage, Orange launches into a series of characters that often didn't work as such. Their stories read as much as social work reports as fiction. The positive: Orange draws some of these characters very well, and often his prose is gorgeous. Yet just as I was getting into someone's story, off Orange went into another character. There are twelve in total, like the disciples. And they all converge at a powwow in Oakland, like the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales. Orange is self-consciously literary, and while this trait works to elevate and dignify the lives of his characters, it does not necessarily produce effective fiction, regardless of the writer's heritage.

And the novel's development is interrupted by another rant. Maybe for some all-white readers this works, allowing them to experience ethnic hatred themselves. (I hate the term race, because for me there's only one race, the human one.) For me, it's weird and shameful, another reminder that our faults unite us as humans, despite our skin colours and heritages. In any case, rants don't make high art fiction, IMO, and Tommy Orange has the capabilities to produce that. Maybe the next novel?

KatieD_KCMO Mar 06, 2020

Tommy Orange takes the different versions of each characters "urban Indian experience" and weaves it into one beautiful and intensely emotional tapestry, culminating in their gathering at the Big Oakland Pow-wow. Tommy Orange writes each character as if they are a part of himself. He writes for everyone--and every indigenous person or person with indigenous heritage who has ever felt "not Indian enough." It's a beautiful debut novel, I look forward to more from him in the future.

Tommy Orange takes the different versions of each characters "urban Indian experience" and weaves it into one beautiful and intensely emotional tapestry, culminating in their gathering at the Big Oakland Pow-wow. Tommy Orange writes each character as if they are a part of himself. He writes for everyone--and every indigenous person or person with indigenous heritage who has ever felt "not Indian enough." It's a beautiful debut novel, I look forward to more from him in the future.

CCPL_Carly Feb 03, 2020

Tommy Orange has constructed a polished and impactful novel, with voices long unheard in fiction about Native people. His writing is both poetic and fierce - exceptionally stunning at points. The characters here, underrepresented in fiction, are painted so expertly that their fates will linger long after the book's relentless finale. A new and important entry to collected Native fiction.

Jan 26, 2020

This book has many characters and many time frames. It is complex, intriguing and sometimes confusing. Orange explores diverse stories of native Americans who converge in the same place at the same time. It is a troubling and thought provoking tale.

Jan 12, 2020

Loved this book and that it was set in local Oakland, CA, I had to read it. Characters are relatable, and hearing their perspectives on growing up native and how hard it is to hold onto their traditions makes me realize my own. We all have a history. Loved the native dancing aspect and watching quite a few videos on YouTube to see what it was about. Powerful.

**I read this after reading Killers of the Flower Moon ~ which is also one of my top reads on Native Americans.

Dec 01, 2019

November WPL Book Club selection: I don't understand the hoopla about this book. Too many characters therefore we didn't really get to know any of them therefore I didn't grow to care for any of them. Also, I'd really like to know how many people were at this powwow because wow....

Nov 08, 2019

Compelling style, vivid, memorable characters, and intertwined storylines that build layer upon layer, to an explosive conclusion. Tommy Orange deserves all the praise he’s received for a great first novel.

ArapahoeTina Oct 26, 2019

This book added Native voices to my life that I hadn't even known were missing. Great narrative storytelling with lots of heart and bits of humor. For a debut novel, this author handled his complex storyline very deftly and is deserving of the praise he's received.

Oct 23, 2019

Amazing story teller. If you love stories then give this a read. You won't regret it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Pick it up now!

Sep 28, 2019

Tommy Orange's novel, "There There," is a novel of tragic beauty woven out of a cast of urban Native Americans living in Oakland, California, struggling to survive on all levels. The novel may make you feel depressed as you read it- Tommy's characters spend a lot of time feeling like frauds and being depressed and making poor decisions in their struggles to live meaningful lives, a great majority of them are trying their best to overcome their circumstances and feeling fake in a white world that seems at every turn against them; make no mistake, "There There" has been written that way, as if to share the burden of the suffering and subjugation of all indigenous people throughout history onto the shoulders of all its readers to lessen the burden of these urban American Indians who have made Oakland their home. As a reader, you cannot help but feel that we get glimpses of the writer through all of his characters, but two characters, in particular, stand out- one a writer in a graduate MFA writing program, Edwin, and the other a budding documentarian and possible film director, Dene. What Dene says about his favorite film "Requiem For A Dream" can be applied to this novel by just substituting the word "novel" for "film", "... what is so good about the [novel], aesthetically it's rich, so you enjoy the experience, but you don't exactly come away from the [novel] glad that you {read] it, and yet you wouldn't have it any other way" (239).

One way to read the novel is as a series of dramatic monologues, full of pathos, and complete with a cast of characters preceding the much-praised, and deservedly so, prologue which becomes lyrical in its descriptions. Thematically, we see the constant search for identity and meaning in the midst of harrowing circumstances, broken homes, emotional and physical abuse, alcoholism, parental abandonment, financial and cultural poverty.

This novel is bound to become a classic and a classroom required reading in public schools; it has all the hallmarks of a teachable classic. It tackles heavy subjects and reaffirms the idea that all of our lives are interconnected and what happens when we fail to acknowledge that fact. The best novels know which questions to ask and to allow the readers to live with those questions, the consequences of those questions.

Sep 24, 2019

I had the great privilege of seeing Tommy Orange welcomed to Tacoma for the Tacoma Reads 2019 kickoff. This book is fantastic, and is the perfect choice for a book to be read by a whole city, especially a city like ours with a reservation right in the middle of it and a long history of urban Indians (and a long history of whiteness and colonialism).

I loved this book even before I saw Orange speak about it. It's complex, clear, unflinching, and lovely. In some ways it’s unselfconsciously and deliberately literary—I’m thinking of the chapter written in second person just because Orange wanted to, just because he was playing around with point of view and had already done first person and several third person chapters—but that’s part of its strength. The American literary canon is full of self-indulgently literary novels by middle-and-upper-class straight white men. Claiming a right to take part in that tradition is part of claiming the right to be seen, for one’s nuances to matter. This book matters.

Sep 02, 2019

A beautifully written story of the connection and disconnection of urban native peoples.

DPLryaf Jul 11, 2019

This fast-paced debut novel tells the story of how 12 Urban Indians found themselves at the Oakland pow-wow. Each chapter tells their heartbreaking stories of what its like to be a native-American today. There were beautiful moments of pause in the book giving backstory to the Indian experience; the "Interlude" especially. I became especially invested in Jacquie whose blood seemed to connect all the characters in the story. The speed at which the last 50 pages move was incredibly gripping and while the big event ended in absolute horror, I did find some sense of peace and resolve with ending. You won't forget a novel like this one.

Jul 07, 2019

A big, powerful, thoughtful novel about modern urban Indians told through the stories of 12+ different people making their way to Oakland for a powwow, each with their own reason. Even with all of those POVs (each chapter focuses on a different character), Orange is so talented that each voice felt unique and fully realized. Compelling, brutal, insightful, vivid, and complex.

TacomaLibrary Jun 23, 2019

Tacoma Reads 2019. Read the book. Join the Conversation.

Jun 17, 2019

A brutal, and brutally honest portrayal, told in a mix of first-person, second-person, and third-person narration. It was interesting to discover how the various characters relate to each other and how they converge at the climax. The book is basically realistic, but with an occasional surreal (and horrifying) metaphor (i.e., those spider legs) -- these form counterpoint with the horrific (and intolerable) situations and thrust of the story.

May 13, 2019

There There, the debut novel by Tommy Orange, follows a large cast of Native Americans who live in Oakland, California. Orange does a masterful job of setting up his narrative with a prologue about the history of Native Americans and the power of who tells those stories, whether by white people or others. Then he unfurls the narrative with each of his characters stories like a patchwork quilt weaved with sadness and regret and remorse. All his characters are troubled and, unfortunately for them and the reader as well, there will be no light at the end of their tunnel. The narrative is a dirge, figuratively and literally. It's a heavy story but one that needed to be told and listened to. I think it's important to hear the stories of all Americans, most importantly the marginalized.

Having a happy ending is not a requirement for me but to invest in these characters then have their lives end in the way it does in this novel is like a sucker punch. It's a cheap shot. But these characters' lives are worth reading about. Hope is a powerful subtext; I just wished for a little more of it.

Orange does a curious thing by mixing first, second, and third person narration. His first-person narration is particularly effective, as his characters' personalities jump off the page. The second-person choice even makes sense in the chapter where it's used. But the third-person choice is a head-scratcher. Why offer some of these marginalized characters the power of narrating their own stories then deny some others by using a mysterious narrator? Why not let them tell their own stories? The only thing the third-person narration did was confuse me. Why aren't they telling their own story? Why does Tony speak for himself but Bill doesn't? It's an odd choice and one I'm surprised his editor didn't question. Maybe Orange was showing off like a juggler adding burning bowling pins to his set of rubber balls.

Overall, a good read with some exceptional writing, although the end left a little to be desired. I would give this novel a 3.5 stars.

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