Cover Image: How We Named the Stars

How We Named the Stars

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Lovely, heartwrenching, and ultimately uplifting novel. I found the scenes with Daniel & Sam, and Daniel & his abuelo, to be particularly moving. It took me a little to get used to the rhythm but once I fell into it, I just loved the way it was written. Overall I enjoyed the novel more on second read, because I better understood the uncle’s narrative.

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I do not typically read contemporary fiction, but wow am I ecstatic that I chose How We Named the Stars as an introduction to the genre. Andres N. Ordorica’s debut novel was a tender coming of age story filled with grief, love, and self-discovery, and following Daniel’s first year of college as a first-generation Mexican American man who is growing into his identity as a gay man. Daniel is a chronic anxious overthinker, which can sometimes feel draining in a book from his POV, but Ordorica uses Daniel’s thought process to show us how deep a first love can influence decisions one makes across their entire lifetime. Ordorica does a phenomenal job showing the real ups and downs of love – be it familial, platonic, or romantic, or even self-love—and Daniel’s journey through the passion and heartache of his first year of college wrenched my heart in so many ways. What makes this story so affecting is that Ordorica does not shy away from showing the darker side of dealing with grief, and Daniel’s journey back to himself feels so real and hard-earned.

From a larger perspective, I really appreciated how Spanish was woven into the work. The chapter titles changing from Spanish to English when Daniel arrived in Mexico helped to ground me in our setting right from the start and gave a small glimpse into how Daniel began to embrace his heritage and family legacy during his time in Mexico. The use of Spanish in conversation was incredibly smooth, giving better insight to Daniel’s experience while not alienating non-Spanish speakers.

In thinking of the chapters/sections, one note I will make is that the formatting for the file had incorrect spacing, which sometimes took me out of the story as I had to determine what is part of the journal entries from Daniel’s Uncle and what was the main story. While I am certain that this will be correct for the physical copies, it did influence my reading experience.

It's hard to put into coherent words how this work affected me, but I know that I will continue to think to its lessons for a long time. The best way I can describe it is that this work made me want to go back and hug my 18/19-year-old self so tightly and love her through all the happiness, pain, and heartache she would come to know. Thank you, Andres, for giving me that.

Thank you to NetGalley, W. W. Norton & Company, and Andres N. Ordorica for an advanced copy of this work in exchange for a review.

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A beautifully written coming of age story- a story of grief and love. Daniel is in a conversation with Samuel, the young man he fell in love with who has, sadly, died. They came together at university from very different backgrounds but that didn't matter. Now, Daniel has retreated to his ancestral home in Mexico, where he is contemplating life, fate, coming out, his love. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. This is heartfelt, emotional, and thoughtful- a good read.

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Andrés N. Ordorica's How We Named the Stars is a tender debut novel tracking a young man's coming of age. It deals with first love, grief, learning oneself, and alienation. Daniel de La Luna is a Mexican-American, first generation college student at a prestigious east coast university. He finds himself overwhelmed and very alone. Luckily, he finds a North Star in his roommate Sam who he really vibes with, and starts to find a community at the university with other students and an advisor. Over time, the conversations between Daniel and Sam become more intense and intimate, and Daniel realizes that he is developing deep feelings for Sam. Just as the school year is coming to a close, their relationship blossoms, but comes to an abrupt end as Sam pulls back and Daniel goes to Mexico to visit his extended family as he deals with profound grief after a devastating, unresolved loss. Much of the later half of this book deals with Daniel learning more about his family in Mexico, including his uncle who passed away at a young age, and whom Daniel is named for, and how he recalibrates a new normal for him.

This is a sweet and sad novel. I really enjoyed the journey of self-discovery and emotions Daniel went on. Because this book is primarily told through Daniel's point of view, it is not an objective look at interactions he has with people. He is a major overthinker, which can be frustrating at times, and I found Sam to be almost a too perfect ideal of friend/partner, but I had to remind myself that it was how Daniel viewed him.

Thank you to Tin House, via NetGalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for honest review.

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My ARC was messed up on Kindle so page numbers and the author’s name kept getting mixed into the text of the book. Since it’s coming out soon anyway, I’ll just add to my TBR.

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A beautifully written book that describes the coming of age of the main character-Daniel de la Luna-a Mexican immigrant spending his first year at a prestigious east coast university.
The book is a love letter to his deceased roommate Sam, with whom he experiences first love, first grief, first loss, and a true awakening of his sexual identity. His summer in Mexico emphasizes his family ties and reveals the similar struggle of his namesake deceased uncle Daniel and his experiences there give him the strength to move forward and reengage with the world and with his friends with a new sense of purpose.

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This one was a difficult read for me precisely because how well it captures what grief of losing a best friend/first love can unleash on a young adult. There were too many parallels to Daniel's loss of Sam to my own life, that it's a little insane I allowed myself to go on this potentially triggering journey. I think the the reason I found this unputdownable, despite being forced to revisit a very painful phase of my life, is perhaps the larger point of this book. At the heart of this there is a very intersectional story about how a relationship like Daniel and Sam's is so transformative for someone already living in the liminal spaces of belonging and becoming. Daniel's growth through isolation , self-doubt, queer repression and crippling anxiety is not unlike my own. Meeting someone like Sam who sees you and liberates you through kindness is not unlike my relationships with many of my found family as a young immigrant. And Daniel's journey through losing Sam, over and over again, and finding solace through reclaiming himself in ways he may not have otherwise, is also not unlike my own journey of grieving and growing in the years after losing my best friend and someone I thought was the love of my life. This story is a very simply written but profound act of absolution that validates having a relationship with grief, with a lost one long after they've passed, of time changing this relationship to be used and leveraged to become everything you want to be and discovering everything you didn't know was the story of you. Thanks Netgalley and thanks to Andres Ordorica for this beautiful book. The cherry of top for me was the author's note at the end that ties Becket's Waiting for Godot as an inspiration for this story -- a play that was deeply meaningful to me and my version of Sam, and also meaningful in my own queer journey.

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How We Named the Stars by Andrés N. Ordorica is a beautifully written story of love and grief intermingling in the memories of Daniel, a young Mexican American man, who has experienced both love, grief, and growth in the short span of his first year of college and the summer that follows.

There are many things I can say about this book and how it lyrically captures the newness and uncertainty of first love, loss, grief, and heartbreak, but I think what I appreciated most about this book was the tenderness in which these subjects were handled. I cannot say that I did not cry because I most definitely did. However, I was not absolutely gutted by the trauma while still feeling every part of it and I believe Ordorica has a beautiful way of turning life's pains into poetry. I also appreciated how though I am not like the main character, Daniel, I saw myself in him. Perhaps this is because Daniel read as more than just a character in a book I was reading. He felt real as if I knew him and as if at some point in my life (maybe even now) I am dealing with things quite like him, learning to deal with and move forward from/with grief.

Structurally, the way the chapter (section?) titles mirrored where Daniel was in the world was excellently executed. When he was at his elite university in Ithaca the titles were in English and when he was in Mexico for the summer, they were in Spanish. They also served to help ground me in the passage of time as well as how Daniel viewed time as his experiences changed. Additionally, the usage of Spanish within the text was done without alienating non-Spanish speakers. While I do speak Spanish, I was pleased to see that everywhere it was used within the novel also included context clues or translations to help non-Spanish speakers get the message.

As much as I loved this book, there were small things that I wish were handled differently. For instance, early in the book there are clear moments or racism and homophobia being displayed as Daniel is living his life in Ithaca, but after those moments pass they just seem to fade away and we're living in the bubble of first love and heartbreak. The characters do continue to live their lives at school, but there aren't many more mentions of how those things impact them. Granted, this book is not completely about that and the focus is on Daniel's story. I do just feel it was brought up so blatantly and then swept into the background not to be seen explicitly again.

Still, this was an emotional read for me and I am happy I read it.

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thank you to netgalley and Tin House for allowing me to read this book. This was so beautifully written,

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This book broke parts of me I didn’t know existed, but managed to assure me that I could put myself back together. What a beautiful, tender, and devastating letter of love, grief, and discovery of home in all its many definitions.

I might have to make a longer post once I’ve collected myself and stopped crying for a bit, but for now I’m nearly speechless. I haven’t been so deeply affected by a novel in a while. I can’t wait to see what Ordorica writes next.

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Thank you to NetGalley and W. W. Norton & Company for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Grief is a funny thing, it doesn’t always manifest in ways society expects.

This story came to me at a very difficult point in my life. This year, I lost one of my best friends. She had just turned 23 and was supposed to get married in the summer. I helped her pick her wedding dress. I would never get to see her in it.

Because of that, this book was deeply personal to me.

I felt very connected to Daniel and his experiences. We are so similar yet so different (I guess shout out to being a queer Latino named after your dead tío?).

It was ambitious of the author to begin the story with us already knowing Sam is dead, because we don’t yet know the characters or really care about them. It’s a big task to work backwards and create the connection to their story when the reader already knows (some of) the conclusion. But I think the book truly achieves what it set out to do. The knowledge of Daniel’s impending loss weighs on the story, but it doesn’t make the moment it happens any less impactful.

The novel tackles the feelings of grief and the ways they can manifest and shape a person. It seamlessly entwines the story of Tío Daniel with the rest of the narrative. The impact of that loss on his family and the almost… predestined life of Daniel as his nephew only furthered the themes of the novel.

I found the actual writing and prose of the novel to be beautiful as well. Author Ordorica doesn’t shy away from describing the dirty and unpleasant parts of life and turning them into something not necessarily beautiful, but natural. I felt like I was experiencing the world with Daniel.

Overall, I loved this book. It wasn’t “healing” per se, but it was cathartic. I think part of me needed it. But even besides my own personal connection with the topic, I thought the novel tackled the themes of grief in a unique way.

Five stars for sure.

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"How We Named the Stars" is an introspective, coming-of-age, Mexican, LGBT+ story about a college freshman who falls in (very dramatic) love (as only college students can do) with his roommate.

The story is told in two parts: Daniel meets Sam in college and their friendship develops as Daniel struggles to come out of his shell. During summer break, Daniel goes back to Mexico for the first time in seven years and, dealing with heartbreak and loss, begins to find his feet. The story felt realistic, like it could actually have been a college memoir penned to an old friend, although the ~spicy bits~ were just a hair unrealistic and would have, in the real world, led to an unpleasant experience and quite a bit of pain (sorry, not sorry), although it also would have felt out of place with the tone of the story to have long, very detailed spicy scenes.

While the pacing of the book is definitely on the slow side - long expositive passages interspersed with barely any dialogue - I loved that the author unapologetically interspersed Spanish words and phrases into the dialogue. There are no footnotes or translations by the narrator - either you understand the Spanish or you don't (and in my opinion, the author also provides enough context clues to understand everything).

I really enjoyed this book - Daniel is one of those characters that you will throughout the entire book to find happiness without being a character that feels stagnant or helpless. I recommend this book for anyone who feels the need to read a slow, soft coming-of-age story.

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Gorgeous writing. “How We Named the Stars” is such a stunning book, I don’t think I was prepared to be that emotionally involved. I read it in one sitting, but it took me a second to get into it after reading the beginning dialogue which was a tad awkward (I think on purpose). I’m so grateful I kept with it, as Daniel’s telling of his relationships with those around him made me feel like a close friend, feeling everything as he did.

How We Named the Stars covers so many topics: nostalgia, racism, isolation, love, fate and connections, heartbreak, acceptance and freedom of expression. I feel like there’s so many themes in this book that it would get overwhelming to some people, especially towards the end when there’s so many things going on. I don’t know if GR does half stars, but I’d dock it a half star down for that.

As a queer person, I found this book extremely relatable. It felt like I was reliving the feelings of my first real crush; the first time you allow to see yourself with someone you might have been afraid to before, the closest friend you’ll feel like you’ll ever have and the one you’re most worried to lose. It reminds me of when I struggled to be open with my sexuality and learning about others who never found their chance to be themselves. As much as it filled me with pride, it also filled me with grief about the pains and fear of being queer.

There’s not many books I’d love to read again for the first time - but I believe this is one of them.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tin House for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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This story took my heart and stomped on it in the best way imaginable. Daniel and Sam’s story told through Daniel’s memories, and retrospection was what every teen story wishes it was. The bits of diary anecdotes from his uncle to mirror Daniel’s life made it that much more meaningful. I cannot wait to see what else Odorica writes.
My only complaint with the story was the formatting but that is most likely due to the ebook transfer to my kindle.

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"How We Named the Stars" by Andrés N. Ordorica is truly so beautiful and gripping from the very first page. Ordorica weaves so much authenticity and poetry into everything he writes, every scene and statement so articulate and succinct, painting the perfect picture of these two boys' lives (especially Daniel's, who is the first-person narrator of this story).

"Stars" crosses a lot of heavy territory in terms of grief, racism, family issues, profound loss, queerness, and young love, holding appropriate space for each while remaining optimistic and hopeful - a very rare, and difficult, balance to strike. Throughout multiple points, it moved me to profound tears, recalling the same losses I've experienced in life (especially losing someone too soon) and attempting to live up to your family's expectations.

As the story is told from Daniel's perspective, he is our eyes and ears to this world, and he is an authentic, trustworthy narrator. How he sees the world - and interacts with those in his life, and even the way he processes grief in the end - is fundamentally good, so we root for his success, we grieve his losses, we are angry on his behalf, and we root for him along the way.

For a book tackling so many difficult subjects, Ordorica has truly crafted an extremely kind, sensitive, and deeply vulnerable perspective on grief and tragedy. His turn of phrase is nothing short of spellbinding, the sort of writing any author aspires to when planting a picture in your mind. It's truly no wonder he's a poet. Despite a book that should have felt bogged down under the weight of its own synopsis, it was a real page-turner and so well-paced. I could have easily read it in one day, but spaced it out just to savor his writing and take in every well-earned detail.

I'm grateful to have read this book, and I recommend "How We Named the Stars" for anyone who wants to experience a full spectrum of emotions about first love, grief, and loss, set in a world that feels lived in and authentic. Be prepared to smile and fall in love with both Daniel and Sam - getting to know them, even for a short while, is worth it in the end. Oh, and do have tissues handy.

Thanks to Tin House and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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3.75 stars

Poetic, tender, queer, and sensitive.

This is a lyrically written coming-of-age story of young Daniel de la Luna traversing his first year at the fictional Cayuga University in Ithaca (a fictionalised version of Cornell, one imagines) and the summer that follows it in Chihuahua, Mexico, where one devastating piece of news triggers everything Daniel, as well as his family have kept buried.

The narrative device of Daniel writing the story as if he's telling it to his best friend, Sam (also his first love and sexual awakening) interspersed with diary entries of the uncle he was named after (who died at the age of 22) works well, and adds an immediately intimate touch, almost making us feel, at times, like an intruder.

What I thought could have been better: there were particularly rambling parts where I felt it could have been better edited -- Daniel is an overthinker and sometimes it was a lot to be in his mind. There were also parts where the narrative got excessively descriptive and the flow was bogged down. The plot points/main story beats felt a little contrived and too conveniently tidy, when taken against the larger picture.

This is a new writing voice I'm keen to read more of!

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I enjoyed everything that was happening in this story, the characters were what I was hoping for and felt like they were realistic. Andrés N. Ordorica has a great writing style that worked well overall and I enjoyed reading this. It was a great debut novel and I was invested in what was going on.

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How we Named the Stars is a beautiful, heartbreaking love story about the coming of age of Daniel de La Luna. From the first chapter of the book, we know that Daniel's dear friend Samuel has died and the book is written as a letter to Samuel posthumously. The writing is exquisite and the charcater development is so realistic that you feel that you know and understand Daniel.

This book covers to many topics including race and class in academia, sexuality and relationships with family. I highly recommend this book although be prepared with a box of tissues. It is a beautiful read but not an easy read emotionally.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tin House for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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This story about love and loss and grief and queerness and family hit so many beautiful notes. It's an exploration of growing into one's self amidst and despite and because of tragedy, and Ordorica does just that so well in his debut novel. It felt lyrical and prosaic throughout, so it is no surprise that Ordorica has a poetry background.

I adored the framework for this novel: both the month by month re-telling of Daniel and Sam's story and also the Tío Daniel letters and diary entries that begin each chapter. It helped really sink in the idea that Daniel was taking time to find his footing as a young man named after someone he knew so little about. It was really lovely to watch him uncovering the mystery of who this person was and bringing the memory of his uncle back to his family just as he was bringing his own self to them.

The characters felt rich and fleshed out, even the ones we only saw for a few moments or interactions. Daniel, Sam, Abuelo, Diego, Naomi, Bernie-Bernice, Luis: I knew them and what was important to them and how they interacted with the world. They were in community with Daniel in different ways, all important and necessary and so wonderful to read about.

There were some times when I felt like Daniel or other characters were speaking in a very "written" way as opposed to the way people naturally speak, but after a bit I realized that it really fit with the narrative. Whether intentionally done or not, it works with the story of Daniel remembering all of these instances; of course a person would paraphrase or re-write their memories as they go through them to document such as Daniel has here.

It's rare that a book will have me tearful but still hopeful, still smiling and excited to turn pages. Often a book about grief is hard to read and while there were certainly difficult parts to get through, there are similarly difficult parts of life. Having a story like this where our beloved main character makes it out on the other side is something really special.

Thank you to W. W. Norton & Company and Netgalley for access to an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review!

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Even though I just finished this book, I am already thinking about the next reread. There is such a wonderful mix of devastating, heartbreaking, and beautiful emotions that I feel as though I left a part of myself in this book.

HOW WE NAMED THE STARS by Andrés N. Ordorica tells the story of Daniel as he embarks on the new adventure of college with new friends, experiences, and his roommate Sam. Daniel is an extremely relatable character who struggles with feeling at home in college while dealing with a lot of struggles he’s internalized as a classic overthinker. He feels lost in all of the new experiences that college brings (a relatable experience for many of us) and is still trying to understand who he is in his queerness while navigating situations he’s never experienced before. His roommate Sam becomes an important person in his life. We follow Daniel throughout his first year away in college as he experiences wonderful beautiful things as well as incredible loss and grief.

What makes this book so unique, is while it is narrated in first person, the narrator, and main character Daniel is addressing Sam in a second person narration style using “you”. I haven’t come across many books utilizing second-person narration, so I was immediately drawn in. Ordorica weaves an incredible story with poetic prose and remarkable characters that I fell for instantly.

I don’t feel that my review truly captures just how magnificent the writing is here. Ordorica is simply amazing with his words, it is clear that he is an amazing poet because his words flow effortlessly off the page. His writing was so easy to follow but incredibly vivid and real. This story truly touched my soul.

As much as this story is about the beauty of first love and friendship there is also a heavy dose of grief, immense loss, and how we begin to heal. HOW WE NAMED THE STARS is an ode to love and honoring those who we have lost along with the ways we can move on while still keeping them in our thoughts. It’s worth it to talk about those we have lost and remember things about them in order to heal.

Daniel is a character I wanted to hug many times throughout this book. He goes through so much and has some important epiphanies that are relatable to all. Growing up is hard but there is also beauty in the difficulty, and for anyone who has struggled with confidence, anxiety, overthinking, or being unsure of yourself or who you are PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. Be ready to cry and fall in love with the characters and this book.

Thank you to Andrés N. Ordorica for writing this book. I’ll be sure to read more from him in the future. Also thanks to NetGalley and Tin House for this e-ARC!

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