By Tommy Orange
Knopf, 9780525520375, June 2018, 304pp.
The Short of It:
The writing in There There is so clear and authentic.
The Rest of It:
There There is one of those buzzy books that everyone is either reading or at least knows about. When it first came out, I immediately added it to my want list but didn’t actually read it until someone chose it for a discussion I was invited to.
The book begins with an essay on the portrayal of Native Americans over time. Orange then introduces his characters through what appears to be separate stories, unrelated to one another. But as you read on, you slowly realize that all of these characters intersect and ultimately end up at a powwow where a robbery goes terribly wrong.
Each story is utterly compelling. A young woman loses one baby at birth and years later is forced to give up another. A young man, trying to make a future for himself applies for a grant so he can set-up a story booth at a local powwow, Another woman leaves the man who is beating her for a future elsewhere. An infant is born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is forced to grow up with the effects of the “Drome”, his nickname for it. What they have in common is their Native American heritage.
Powerful and engaging. It’s refreshing to read something that feels new and different. If you haven’t read There There yet, you may want to move it up on your list.
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