There There

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

The plight of present- day Native Americans is so definitively described in Orange's debut novel.  
In CA, the Big Oakland Powwow is commencing and through the numerous characters the plot unwinds.  We are introduced to several Native Americans where their experiences are so disheartening though the wondrous words of the author.  The devastating ending will leave you shaking.
This is quite an important addition to Native American literature, that, hopefully, everyone will read.
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Had I finished this late last year instead of in the second week of January, it would have been vying with Lauren Groff’s Florida for the #1 spot on my Best Fiction of 2018 list.

The title – presumably inspired by both Gertrude Stein’s remark about Oakland, California (“There is no there there”) and the Radiohead song (which features the repeated lines “We are accidents / Waiting to happen”) – is no soft pat of reassurance. It’s falsely lulling; if anything, it’s a warning that there is no consolation to be found here. Orange’s dozen main characters are urban Native Americans converging on the annual Oakland Powwow. Their lives have been difficult, to say the least, with alcoholism, teen pregnancy, and gang violence as recurring sources of trauma. They have ongoing struggles with grief, mental illness, and the far-reaching effects of fetal alcohol syndrome.

The novel cycles through most of the characters multiple times, alternating between the first and third person (plus one second person chapter). As we see them preparing for the powwow, whether to dance and drum, meet estranged relatives, or get up to no good, we start to work out the links between everyone. I especially liked how Orange unobtrusively weaves in examples of modern technology like 3D printing and drones.

The writing in the action sequences is noticeably weaker, and I wasn’t fully convinced by the sentimentality-within-tragedy of the ending, but I was awfully impressed with this novel overall. I’d recommend it to readers of David Chariandy’s Brother and especially Sunil Yapa’s Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. It was my vote for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize (for the best first book, of any genre, published in 2018), and I was pleased that it went on to win.
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There There follows the story of several characters whose lives intertwine. From a mentally ill young man to an elderly woman who has recently gotten sober, Tommy Orange shows us a wide array of characters.

The lives of these characters are all a bit disjointed and we follow them over the course of only a few days, sometimes only hours. Despite this, they all have one thing in common: they’re all Native Americans who are brought together to celebrate the Big Oakland Powwow.

I thought this was a very interesting debut by Tommy Orange. It felt very good to read from the perspective of several Native American characters, all descendent from different tribes, and to see how they get on with life. I was very pleased to see how different each character related to their Native background: did they reject it? distance themselves from it? capitalized on it?

However, I couldn’t relate on an emotional level with most of the characters. Since there are so many cuts from one POV to the other, I felt I didn’t spend enough time with any of the characters. This is usually an issue I have with books where we have more than one POV, and unfortunately, I don’t think Tommy Orange nailed the narrative quite yet.

I can’t not mention that prelude to the story, though. Before the proper narrative starts, we get a brief account of Native American history through the eyes of a Native. From King Phillip’s War (or Metacomet War) to the rounding up of Natives in reservations, Tommy Orange makes the reader question their perspective of Native American place in history.

All in all, I’m giving There There three stars, but I’m very hopeful for what Tommy Orange has to write and publish next!
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Okay. I don't remember much about my thoughts on this now since I read it quite a while ago. I liked it. I thought it got a little too long and a little too many characters and a little too convoluted. I think it was mostly problems with the format - the different character POV each chapter but a lot of interweaving characters just from different viewpoints and the end! I remember being upset about that. Of course, you're MEANT to be upset because it is trying to make a definite point about guns in this country. I think I would have appreciated a slightly shorter and tighter and less character POVs way of getting there though.
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This book was a difficult read for me. The characters were interesting and their stories are important, but their lives are so bleak it was almost intolerable.
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Tommy Orange has an incredible gift for writing realistic, flawed, natural characters with language that is easy to read while still being incredibly profound and moving. This book follows twelve Native characters all headed to the Big Oakland Powwow, loosely connected, all grappling with what it means to be Native in a country that has so deeply stereotyped the Native American experience. It touches on a variety of heavy topics - poverty, violence, alcoholism, loss of culture and history - in an emotional and personal way. I can't wait to see what Tommy Orange writes next.
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This is the best book I've read so far this year. It starts with a virtuosic essay about what Native Americans have had inflicted on them since white people arrived on their shores. It's short, sharp, dazzling. Then it heads into the stories of its characters, one by one, until they all start mixing up at the Oakland, CA powwow at the end of the book. And these stories, one after the other, are marked by the weight of generations of trauma-- which is dark. But they're so GOOD, and each story is so involving. There's a filmmaker in the book who is applying for a grant to do a documentary about urban natives- as opposed to the reservation natives that usually get the attention. He just wants to film them telling their stories, follow the stories where they lead, and that feels like what Orange is doing with this book. There's a character with what he calls "the Drome"- fetal alcohol syndrome- who is falling in with some bad characters. A character who plays drums because it puts him in a place where he's comfortable in his skin, and the only other thing that can do that is drinking too much alcohol. I especially loved two sisters, Opal and Jacquie, and Jacquie's grandson, Orvil. These characters all seem to feel the loss of who they are supposed to be.

Then there's that powwow at the end, when they come together, and I don't want to tell you too much about that, except that the writing is truly dazzling, and I should go back and reread it because I was simultaneously being dazzled and WANTING TO KNOW WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NEXT.
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I feel almost honoured to have read something so great, so full of promise. This book is so masterfully written and Orange's voice is so entirely his own. I cannot wait to read more of his work.
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The most striking aspect of the novel for me was the trouble that all the characters experience. On the one hand, they are forced to hide their culture and traditions because they do not belong to the mainstream culture, on the other hand, this leads to a certain loss which is felt but difficult to express. They sense that they are missing something, that they need explanations which nobody will give them. Their identity is never really complete which consequently ends in serious disturbances. Tommy Orange is a remarkable writer who gives his fellow Natives an important voice that absolutely should be heard.
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"There is no there there" was Gertrude Stein's take on her hometown of Oakland, CA. But there is plenty of there there in Tommy Orange's novel, and a lot of it is full of native Americans and their stories.. He writes compellingly, but there are so many characters that it was very hard to keep track of who was who and who came from another story to drop in on this one twenty years later. I was hoping the pow-wow would bring it all together but when it didn't seem as though that was going to happen, I threw in the towel.  The stories are tough and sad--they don't need to be confusing as well. 

I think Tommy Orange has a great future, and I hope he doesn't just stop after this very successful novel.  He's got more to give and I look forward to his next effort.
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This is a really incredible book, but oh man, Orange left so many questions at the end of the book. I'm not asking for a happy ending, but how about just...an ending? I feel like he ran out of steam because he didn't know how to interweave all the stories, ultimately. And dude, Mr. Orange, I FEEL YOU. Life is messy and stories are messy and the interweaving of lives and stories is generally complicated and hard to predict. But oh man, there wasn't enough of an attempt for me. The story ended in the exact middle of the story. EXACT MIDDLE. 

All that said, I don't hesitate to recommend this. There's a lot of good here.
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THERE THERE by Tommy Orange is a novel profiling twelve individuals and their reasons for attending the Big Oakland Powwow in California. Again, there are multiple perspectives which is a big plus in trying to describe the cultural identity and overall complexity of the Native American experience. However, the emotional anger really seems to dominate, making this a surprisingly difficult book to read. The author intertwines the historic occupation of Alcatraz with brutal current day Urban Indian violence and critical issues like fetal alcohol syndrome, domestic abuse and addiction. Other reviewers used phrases like "jangling energy," "a rush of intensity," and "devastating" to describe this debut storytelling work. THERE THERE received multiple starred reviews (from Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly).  Discussion guide here:
https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/563403/there-there-by-tommy-orange/9780525520375/readers-guide/ 
This title was highlighted at a recent Bookstall presentation on new Spring and Summer titles by publisher representatives.
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Thanks for the book @prhinternational #partner #sponsored #prhinternational
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Book: There There
Author: Tommy Orange
Publisher: @prhinternational @penguinbooks 
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
Publication date: 5th June 2018 (ON MY BDAY lol)
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There There by Tommy Orange is a very bold Novel highlighting important topics about the Native population. Exposing every naked truth from gun violence, racism to how the Indian culture settles and builds it strength as natives in this world. This amazing Debut Novel is a must recommend from me because there is an important need to understand these crucial topics. A need to Understand your culture, if you’re an immigrant, specially an Indian, you would absolutely love it.
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One tiny tip for the book- Make notes of characters throughout your read as there are too many its easy for some to slip out of ur mind 📖‼️
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Happy Reading! Add this to your TBR for june guys 💕
Happy June to all you! This month i turn 21 whoop whoopp!! Supper excited to see how this year unfolds for me ❤️
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Wow. Gorgeous and painful and compelling. I cannot recommend this enough. Tommy Orange packs so much into this. Gutwrenching.
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC of this book. 

An amazing debut novel about the urban Native American. Lots of characters and somewhat hard to keep track of all of them (I finally resorted to making notes) but totally worth the effort. It becomes a bit tough in the later part of the book. Life is not easy and things don't always turn out the way one would hope they would but great insight is provided. A readable book that digs deeply into the lives of its characters.
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Vignettes from the lives of a dozen “urban Indians” preparing for a powwow at the Oakland Coliseum are braided together in this novel, which gets its title from Gertrude Stein’s lament about Oakland: "there is no there there."  The stories are raw, angry, and painful, often questioning what it means to be Native and what it means to be from Oakland.  Orange plays with time and point of view, with some stories taking place many years ago and others taking place in the months leading up to the powwow, as he slowly reveals how the lives of the characters intertwine.  The novel is deceptively short, with an abrupt and devastating ending, and Orange's observations on human nature stay with the reader long after the story is finished.  This novel is likely to be read and recommended for years to come.
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This debut novel from Tommy Orange was nothing less than fantastic. There were a lot of characters stories that you have to follow, so it was a little hard to keep track of the characters, but I really enjoyed how he wrote in a way reminiscent of Louise Erdrich - with each character overlapping with the others in some way or another. You really felt like you were inside the lives of each character and the development of the characters was breathtaking and heartbreaking. I won't spoil the end, but I really enjoy how he kept most of the characters endings open. To be honest, I finished this book a couple of days ago but am still thinking about it. I learned so much from Tommy Orange, I lived and breathed his characters, and I can't wait to see what comes next from this author.
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This book was gritty, poetic, powerful, and ultimately heart-wrenching. My library will definitely be purchasing this title and I'll certainly be recommending it anyone who loves literary fiction. Tommy Orange is an artist.
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I first heard about Tommy Orange July of last year when I was told about some Native American authors to look forward to reading. I was really excited to be able to preview this title on NetGalley. This is a great piece of 21st Century fiction.  Orange writes about the urban Native American experience is such an engaging way and writes about compelling characters. Highly recommended.
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Moving, gripping, illuminating: Orange brings a cast of dozens to vivid life and drives them all to a feverish,  fateful conclusion.
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