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September 2019: Cultural > There There by Tommy Orange - 5 stars

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message 1: by Barbara M (last edited Sep 13, 2019 12:38PM) (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2149 comments A fascinating book, not easy to read but well worth the effort. I read an e-book version but it wasn't Kindle and didn't have a good use of the search or back and forth movement. That's what really made this difficult for me. I'm not a fast reader and all the characters left me confused at times.

In the beginning, Orange introduces all the characters in chapters that might start with a history of that character but then takes that story forward and introduces other characters in Oakland California as Urban Indians who live in the urban environment of the City and not from a reservation, or any type of home arrangement like one. Some of these characters are likable and some not, but most are flawed in some way. Most have lived, are are living, a hard life. It was difficult at times keeping up with the characters and who they might be related to as many of them are.

Early on we know that these characters are going to come together at the first Oakland Powwow. Everything is moving in that direction but not in a straight line. We also know that its going to be traumatic. I've been to a couple of powwows and have always enjoyed them so I was able to understand the description of the powwow when I got to that point. It was at that part, over halfway into the book, that the story gets just about impossible to put down. The action moves quickly but, again, not really in a straight line. The chapter brings you to a point in time but the next takes you back to an earlier time and might work past the previous chapter!

I was impressed by the way the word "there" stood out in the storytelling in so many different ways! I completely enjoyed the way the author wrote this story from many different points of view, something I didn't think I would enjoy but in Tommy Orange's hands it works. I'm so glad I chose to read this in my quest for books on culture, a culture I certainly didn't know enough about. I feel educated and I like that.


message 2: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3031 comments I also loved this and gave it a 5, and agreed on the point I also felt educated. It definitely felt like I was learning about another culture I don't know anything about so it fits the cultural tag quite well.


message 3: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 5305 comments I'm glad to see another person on the love side of this book.

It was on my top 10 last year.


message 4: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6060 comments And I pretty much panned it! Thought it poorly structured although some good well-written moments, and probably over-hyped because it is an 'own voices' book for a population under-represented. I was really disappointed.


message 5: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberwolf) | 823 comments Great review, Barbara. This was a powerful book for me--I gave it 5 stars also. I've read a lot of good books this year, but this will be a contender for top 10, for sure.


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