Book Review: There There by Tommy Orange

I always try to read books from voices of diversity and I had been looking forward to checking out There There by Native American writer Tommy Orange. This is his debut novel and is now a National Best Seller. Not bad for his first time around. FYI: September was a blah reading month for me. I also read the following books:

  • The Hate U Give
  • The Kiss Quotient
  • The Death of Mrs Westaway
  • The Mars Room
  • Bird Box

Reviews on some of these will be coming soon.

About the Book 

Author: Tommy Orange

Published: July 2018

Pages: 304

Other works: None


Jacquie Red Feather and her sister Opal grew up together, relying on each other during their unsettled childhood. As adults they were driven apart, but Jacquie is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. That’s why she is there.

Dene is there because he has been collecting stories to honour his uncle’s death. Edwin is looking for his true father. Opal came to watch her boy Orvil dance. All of them are connected by bonds they may not yet understand.

All of them are there for the celebration of culture that is the Big Oakland Powwow.

But Tony Loneman is also there. And Tony has come to the Powwow with darker intentions.

My Review

“You gotta know about the history of your people. How you got to be here, that’s all based on what people done to get you here. Us bears, you Indians, we been through a lot. They tried to kill us. But then when you hear them tell it, they make history seem like one big heroic adventure across an empty forest.”

I am glad I was able to review this book while it is still fresh on my mind. I enjoyed the book and the lives displayed within the characters, but this is another one I wanted more from. And personally the ending sucked…

But, Orange has an amazing writer style that caught me up on page one. There There reads like a short story and takes you into the lives of the various characters. The prologue of this book was the truth and lets you know off jump that this is not some fairy tale story of what some want us to think about Native Americans from the beginning. It was a searing, unwavering telling of the genocide and horror that Native people faced at that time.

There There is a profound look into the modern-day lives of Natives. How the history of our country has formed their lives into what they are today. Although, this is a fiction account, there it nothing fairy tale about these stories. Many of the characters in the story were connected in some way and all suffer from some form of trauma that seems to have been passed down through the bloodline. From alcoholism, abuse, sexual assault; to a life of violence and the will to survive; everyone in this book had a story to tell. So many were left untold and that is what left me hanging with this book.

I wanted to know more about everyone in the book. I also wanted to know more about what happened in the end. I am a sucker for closure and I usually feel slighted when a book doesn’t end like I want it to or even at all. But I cannot say that this book was not amazing because of that. If I put two and two together, I know what happens (although I did hear that Orange is coming back with more on the characters in There There! I AM HERE FOR It!), but I want it spelled out.

There was not a bunch of unnecessary story line in this book and that I appreciate. It was pretty much filled with the message of what Orange was trying to tell us. Oddly, this book gave me a nostalgic feeling and I am not sure why. I enjoyed reading every part of it and felt myself living in their world and having empathy for their struggles. For me the characters were not fictional; they were real because I know people just like them exist and have a hard time navigating through a country that has always been theirs to begin with. Hell, as a black woman; I have a hard time too and I feel complete solidarity with the original Americans. The true Americans.

There There gets 4.5 stars from me and if you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and go check it out. This book really made my reads for September!

Have you read There There? What were your thoughts?

Happy Reading!

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