There There - Tommy Orange

Review :

Tommy Orange's debut novel is already getting a lot of love, but I have to chime in with my praise, too. For one thing, There, There is set in Oakland, where I lived for most of the 90s, and reading it brought back a lot of memories. The author hits us with a buckshot blast of wonderful characters, self-described "Urban Indians," each with his/her own short, interwoven chapters. We follow their interconnected lives as they prepare for the first Big Oakland Pow Wow. They are drawn there for many different reasons -- to reconnect, to make money, to dance, to record stories. Unfortunately, a few of them are planning to rob the Pow Wow. Orange provides deft, beautifully crafted portraits of their lives, so by the time the hold-up come and (SPOILER) the heist does not go as planned, we care about how all of them will fare. The ending is perfect -- unfinished, jagged with emotion, and yet still full of perseverance and hope. I won't say this read was 'easy.' It packs an emotional wallop. But the pages fly by, thanks to the short chapters and varying points of view.


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