There is one word that perfectly describes the novel There, There, and it is powerful. Even the layout of the book is meant for you to really, really concentrate so that you can keep not only the characters straight but their place in it.
Tommy Orange has written a fresh take on the plight of the American Indian, or indigenous peoples. Told from the viewpoint of twelve different voices, the main plot is how and why they are all planning to go to an annual powwow. Some for a good reason, some not so much. From the twelve voices in each chapter, four of them really stand out: Tony, a drug dealer, Opal, all goodness and love who wants to see her child dance at the powwow, Dene who wants to film the event, and Jacquie, Opal’s half-sister. A lot happens from the beginning of the novel to its end at the powwow, and there are some surprises for the reader and much can be taken away that you thought you knew. This author understands his people thoroughly.
There, There was read by the Library’s Friday afternoon book discussion, and it was interesting how the group tried to explain their feelings. You could say you liked it, but none would recommend it as it is so sad. Some of the group loved the layout of different chapters eventually coming together at the end, some felt it was tiring to keep going back and forth to try to keep all that was happening straight.
This award winning novel is probably on its way to being considered an American Classic and will end up being read in the schools. It deserves a lot of respect and reflection.