Today we are going to talk about November’s book of the month, There There by Tommy Orange. But first, let’s check out this book and see what it is all about.
Tommy Orange’s wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform a traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT AND/OR ANSWER:
- How is femininity depicted in There There? What roles do the female characters assume in their community? Within their families?
- How is the city of Oakland characterized in the novel? How does the city’s gentrification affect the novel’s characters? Their attitudes toward home and stability?
- Discuss the generational attitudes toward spirituality in the Native community in There There. Which characters embrace their elders’ spiritual practices? Who doubts the efficacy of those efforts? How did you interpret the incident of Orvil and the spider legs?
- When readers are first introduced to Dene Oxendene, we learn of his impulse to tag various spots around the city. How did you interpret this act? How does graffiti culture work to recontextualize public spaces?
“Powerful. . . . There There has so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it’s a revelation.” —The New York Times
“An astonishing literary debut.” —Margaret Atwood
“Masterful. . . . White-hot. . . Devastating.” —The Washington Post
“Pure soaring beauty.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Stunning.” —The Boston Globe
“Brilliantly, furiously, magnificently, tragically, the story of America.” —Elle
“Electrifying.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Brilliant, propulsive.” —People
MOCHA GIRLS READ AND REVIEW
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“There, There” may be the best book I’ve read this year! For sure top 5! . . . #therethere #bookstagram #books #wellreadblackgirl #ilovebooks #goodbooks #bookreview #bookrecommendations #readersofinstagram #shortstory #whatitmeanswhenamanfallsfromthesky #coffeeshop #coffeeaddict #blacknails
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