Akilah's Reviews > There There

There There by Tommy Orange
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liked it
bookshelves: 2019, audiobook, alcoholism, books-for-grownups, poc, book-club, nov

This is a series of interrelated short stories or vignettes, which I like. What I didn't like is that there's a lot of--I don't want to say authorial voice, but--a lot of pontificating and describing in circles sometimes and not enough dialogue and action. When the characters interact with each other, things are super engaging and pick up, but there are long stretches when they don't, so that made some sections seem to drag on, even though this is a pretty short novel.

One of my favorite things about the book is the way Orange gives all of the characters voice, including who would typically be considered the bad guys. He really humanizes all of them by letting us understand and experience their trauma instead of just letting them sit on the page as, in the case of Octavio, just this really sort of intimidating dude who is able to bully people into doing what he wants. I found that really affecting, and I appreciated getting that character's perspective. When I got to that part, I was like, "Wait, isn't this...?" and it was. It's a nice reminder that those types of people are still people and often broken people at that.

I listened to the audiobook, and I liked all of the narrators. However, with twelve characters and only four narrators, sometimes the same narrator read for back to back sections/chapters, which made it harder for me to keep track of who was who and in whose perspective I was experiencing the book.

The ending is extremely open, which I like, but I know some people hate. So just a heads up on that.

Ultimately, I liked this book as a whole, but it is pretty bleak, which is not really my thing. I get and appreciate *why* it's that way, but still. Also, I told my colleague who teaches the Native American fiction class about the book, and he was excited to know there's a contemporary novel about Urban Indians he can now include in his course, so there is also that.

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Reading Progress

July 14, 2018 – Shelved
July 14, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
November 17, 2019 – Finished Reading
November 18, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019
November 18, 2019 – Shelved as: audiobook
November 18, 2019 – Shelved as: alcoholism
November 18, 2019 – Shelved as: books-for-grownups
November 18, 2019 – Shelved as: poc
November 18, 2019 – Shelved as: book-club
November 18, 2019 – Shelved as: nov

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