Debuts to Read Right Now: There There
Look, I do a new release blog every single week. And, oftentimes, when I'm doing the research, I come across the same names over and over. Breaking through the James Pattersons, the Nora Roberts, and the Stephen Kings of the writing world is darn near impossible. This year, I've made a point to read debut novels. So, without further ado, a debut to read right now.
There There by Tommy Orange
What I liked:
Here's the thing. I read this book a couple of months ago and I didn't really like it. I gave it two stars on Goodreads. I'd like to recant my original rating and promote it to a four star book. It's such an important book and I can't stop thinking about. There There tells the story of Indigenous people from their point of view, which is, unfortunately, a rarity. And, unlike other stories by native writers, There There is far removed from the reservation Set in Oakland, California, There There tells the story of several Indigenous people that eventually comes to a head when they all converge and come together at the Pow Wow.
While I find all the story lines interesting, the beginning of the book is my favorite. Orange begins by describing the "this is only a test" Indian head anyone who doesn't fall squarely in the Millennial category will remember. It appeared after the TV programs were over for the day. With Netflix and other streaming services, the programs never end, so the kids have no idea what Orange means by the Indian test screen, but I remember it. Orange then goes through a brief history of Indigenous people being systematically and continuously manipulated, taken advantage of, and moved to less desirable places. he sets you up for what's coming and then he gets to the stories.
The stories are sad, depressing, and heavy; often dealing with alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual assault, and poverty, issues that effect many Americans, native or not. However, this book is important. It's a perspective we get almost never and I hope this eventually becomes required reading.
What I didn't like:
I'm not sure what I didn't like. This book really did a number on me. Like I said, at first, I didn't think I liked There There at all. I just thought I was supposed to like this book, so I gave it two stars and moved on. Reflecting on it, I do like this book. All of it. Tommy Orange has officially wormed his way into my brain and won't leave.
Reasons to give this book a chance:
It's important to read books from perspectives different from your own. It's the only way to learn, try to understand, and empathize. Sure, this book is depressing and sometimes that's not what you need. So, maybe get in the right frame of mind and give this book a chance. It's beautifully written, unique, and important. I'm officially sold on Tommy Orange. Much like Angie Thomas and her debut, The Hate U Give, I'm excited to see what he does next.
Looking for other debuts? Read my Essie blog then read the dang book!