There There

There There

A Novel

Book - 2018 | First edition.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Twelve Native Americans came to the Big Oakland Powwow for different reasons. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxedrene is pulling his life together after his uncle's death and has come to work the powwow and to honor his uncle's memory. Edwin Frank has come to find his true father. Bobby Big Medicine has come to drum the Grand Entry. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil Red Feather; Orvil has taught himself Indian dance through YouTube videos, and he has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. Tony Loneman is a young Native American boy whose future seems destined to be as bleak as his past, and he has come to the Powwow with darker intentions--intentions that will destroy the lives of everyone in his path. Tommy Orange delivers a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen. A multi-generational, relentlessly paced story about violence and recovery, hope and loss, identity and power, dislocation and communion, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780525520375
Branch Call Number: FIC ORANGE
Characteristics: 294 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff


A compelling and fast-paced story depicting Native American life in a modern urban setting. With a large cast of characters, light suspense, and insightful narration, There There is an enlightening read.

Growing up in modern day Oakland, the characters struggle to understand their identity. With a mixture of relatives, surrogate parents and outside influences, the boys try to define themselves as they prepare to attend an enormous powpow. The story would be a farce if it wasn't so heartbreaking. ... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 11, 2019

Excellent. Want to read all his work

Mar 07, 2019

'There There' was sad for me to read and riddled with lamentable profanity. I need to reach out to my Native friends to see if they have read this novel and concur with Tommy Orange in feeling the slight depicted in his debut. If so, I want to know, I need to better understand the theme of identity.

Mar 04, 2019


Feb 28, 2019

Powerful novel, giving readers a panoply of examples of both the resilience and the woundedness of Native persons in these 'united' states of America. Although, as Orange rightly points out, it's as ridiculous and inappropriate to praise Natives (or any person of color) for their 'resilience', as it is to praise the 'resilience' of a rape victim who doesn't die of her injuries. Fans of Sherman Alexie will be glad to find another author with that bone dry side-eye wit. The ending packs a punch, and is carefully and masterfully crafted. I will read anything this person writes from here out.

Tigard_LisaE Feb 22, 2019

This kick-in-the-gut and heart explores the intersecting lives of many different Native American people who have spent all or part of their lives in Oakland. Each chapter features the first (or in one case, second) person POV of different characters, introducing new people deep into the book. Their relationships to one another are illuminated gradually and brilliantly, and it's not too challenging to track who is who. An incredible debut. I can't wait to see more from Tommy Orange.

Feb 13, 2019

Tommy Orange has created and emotionally overwhelming book describing through the planning of a powwow in Oakland the lives of Native Americans as they make their way to this event. Blood and history binds the characters despite their coming from different backgrounds and places. As their land and 100M lives were taken from them, the Nations survivors struggle to live in the new world of now. Powerful insight into the conflict of race/ethnicity in survival and all that our history places upon us.

Feb 12, 2019

Downtowners Book Group Selection:
3 ½ Stars – Growing up in Minnesota we were reminded daily of who was in America first. The names of our towns, counties, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, mascots, the leather moccasins we wore, leather fringed jackets and beaded headbands. Our neighbors were Indian and so were our classmates. Even with all of this I can honestly say I don’t remember the Indian Head on the television test pattern. I remember the four circles and the loud noise the television made when it went off the air as it woke us up as a reminder to go to bed. What I mean to say is Native American people, their names, their culture surrounded us on a daily basis, just as the sky was blue and the grass was green. Being Indian or hearing the name of towns or lakes didn’t stand out because it was so much a part of our lives.
There There was sad for me to read and riddled with lamentable profanity. I need to reach out to my Native friends to see if they have read this novel and concur with Tommy Orange in feeling the slight depicted in his debut. If so, I want to know, I need to better understand the theme of identity.

neyoscribbles Feb 05, 2019

This may be the one novel that comes very close to speaking to most of the problems that a Native American may experience. There are so many characters, all with a troubled past, present or an unforeseeable and on the brink of tumbling down future. Although it is heartbreaking, it is very insightful because I truly appreciated all the different perspectives in terms of gender and the different generations. It is difficult to put this book down and no one chapter or perspective is dull. Also, most of the characters were either related to each other or somehow their lives intertwined and their influences on each other were inevitable. So much so, that it very neatly, became a full circle that offered a sense of closure for the reader.

Feb 04, 2019

Fictional but written with historical anecdotes. Shows like Longmire or Hell On Wheels comes to mind. Documentaries and news about the life and plight of Native Americans flash out when going through story of each character. This is not an easy fictional read.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Jan 22, 2019

This is it! My favorite book from 2018... and I was only a little late to the game. Despite its important setting (mostly Oakland), the characters steal the show. I mean, so many interesting dichotomous, paradoxical characters that are all connected in some capacity. Trying to figure out how was part of the book's appeal for me. Loved the writing, loved the pacing, loved it all. I think it reads a lot like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz so if you like that one...

View All Comments


Add a Quote
jpainter Jan 31, 2019

"She told me the world was made of stories, nothing else, just stories, and stories about stories."

Listen to this companion poem from Billy-Ray Belcourt , NDN Homopoetics

Dec 27, 2018

Some of us came to the cities to escape the reservation. We stayed after fighting in the Second World War. After Vietnam, too. We stayed because the city sounds like a war, and you can't leave a war once you've been you can only keep it at bay--which is easier when you can see and hear it near you, that fast metal, that constant firing around you, cars up and down the streets and freeways like bullets.

Dec 27, 2018

This [forced migration into cities] was part of the Indian Relocation Act,, which was part of the Indian Termination Policy, which was and is exactly what it sounds like. Make them look and act like us. Become us. And so disappear.


Add a Summary
SPL_Shauna Sep 04, 2018

In the years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission began its work, Indigenous news has taken a more prominent place in our news cycles. However, not everyone learns best by reading the news, and if you'd rather learn about cultures and the effects of colonialism by reading fiction, this book is a great place to start. It's also stunning literature in its own right, and Indigenous critics have lauded all the many things this book gets right about Indigenous lives.

There There features an ensemble cast of characters whose lives become intertwined around a large Pow Wow coming up in the Oakland area. Despite the number of characters involved in the narrative, each character feels fully fleshed out. The reader quickly becomes drawn into the narrative of the family who moves to Alcatraz to join the Indigenous occupation, a young man growing up with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome who is tugged into gang activity, a woman who flees an abusive relationship and becomes the Pow Wow's organizer, a young boy who yearns to dance at the Pow Wow despite his family's rejection of the craft, and many others. The narratives spiral together toward a crisis at the Pow Wow, with the reader unable to put the book down until everyone's accounted for.

Gorgeously written, empathic and gritty, There There is likely to make many of this year's best-of lists. Don't miss it.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Sno-Isle Libraries

To Top