Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “There There” as Want to Read:
There There
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

There There

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  362 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
Fierce, angry, funny, heartbreaking—Tommy Orange’s first novel is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen, and it introduces a brilliant new author at the start of a major career.

There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history o
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Knopf
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about There There, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ella McCrystle From the NYTimes:
Tommy Orange’s polyphonic debut novel, takes its title from Gertrude Stein’s cutting line about Oakland, Calif: “There is no there
From the NYTimes:
Tommy Orange’s polyphonic debut novel, takes its title from Gertrude Stein’s cutting line about Oakland, Calif: “There is no there there.”


For native people, Mr. Orange writes, cities and towns themselves represent the absence of a homeland — a lost world of “buried ancestral land, glass and concrete and wire and steel, unreturnable covered memory. There is no there there.”

I am near the end of the novel, and I've found even more that I think could be an answer in the book, but I'll leave the professional answer here instead of my rambling thoughts.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jessica Woodbury
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
In THERE THERE, Orange sets out his task from the beginning: he is going to write the stories of the urban Indian. These are not the stories of reservation life, they are not the stories of the old ways. These are the stories of conflict, of the search for identity, of struggle with poverty and addiction and loss, of family and community growing despite the concrete.

In these connected stories of Native Americans (Orange, like many Natives uses the term "Indian" throughout the book) living in Oa
Ron Charles
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Toward the end of Tommy Orange’s devastating debut novel, a 4-year-old Native American boy keeps asking his grandma: “What are we? What are we?”

The boy has no way of knowing, but that’s a blood-soaked question that Western invaders have made Indians ask themselves for centuries. Exiled, dispersed, murdered, robbed, mocked, appropriated and erased, Native Americans have been forced to define themselves amid unrelenting assault. Their survival, their failure and their resilience in modern-day Amer
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing

If you haven’t heard of Tommy Orange yet, you soon will. This is one of those books that you're simultaneously dying to finish yet don't ever want to finish.

The story unfolds in short chapters and switching point of views. The powwow becomes the centerpiece of the story with the dozen or so characters eventually heading toward it. The characters and their storylines drew me in and made me care, though not all are likable. I grew attached to a lot of them (and sad to say goodbye when t
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

What does it mean to be a Native American—often invisible in the U.S. tapestry? Documentary filmmaker Dene Oxendene, one of a dozen characters whom we meet in this book, gives his take about the Gertrude Stein quote about Oakland (“There is no there there.”) Dene’s words: “This there there. He hadn’t read Gertrude Stein beyond the quote. But for Native people in this country, all over the Americas, it’s been developed over, buried ancestral land, glass and concrete and wire and steel, unreturnab
Michael Ferro
My full review will be published in the Michigan Quarterly Review in the coming months. I will post it here when it is up!
Mary Lins
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
I just finished "There There", by Tommy Orange and I’m so glad to have read it - though sometimes it was difficult:

This book will make you sad - read it anyway.
This book will make you mad - read it anyway.
This book will remind you of the lies we were taught as children - read it to remember.
This book will remind you not to tell those lies anymore - read it to know the truth.
This book will make you smile – know hope.
This book will ruin Thanksgiving for you - read it so you can re-think your futur
Amy Morgan
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book.
Told from the points of view of several different individuals in the Native american community all of them are coming to the pow wow for their own reasons. None of them know the horrific chain of events that is about to happen once they are there. Each individual there has their own demons that they have come to face, or to try and make right a past wrong or to discover a part of their heritage that they were never allowed to explore.

This is
Jaclyn Crupi
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Believe the hype. Orange employs a complex interconnected plural-voice structure to illustrate the multi-faceted legacies of colonisation and genocide for Native Americans. This glorious book is full of rage, hope and loss. It’s powerful and builds at a relentless pace to its stunning conclusion. The only book I can compare it to is HOMEGOING. It’s a force.
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookclub
5+ out of 5.

What a novel. What a *debut* novel.

A searing, heartwrenching look at the Native population, at gun violence, at the poverty epidemic and the opioid epidemic and the obesity epidemic and and and -- and how all these things affect the Native population. What's more, it's told in truly polyphonic terms: chapters swap between tenses and characters, with the kind of narration that stops you in your tracks.

I loved this book and found that it earned every single payoff. I can't wait for yo
Kasa Cotugno
When I first saw the title of this book, I read it as soothing words of comfort, but I had it totally wrong. Taking the famous Gertrude Stein quote "There is no there there," Tommy Orange explains that this seeming indictment of Oakland, California as a featureless hole in the landscape is not what Stein meant. Further reading of the quote proves she found her hometown unrecognizable as the place of her memory. The entirety of the United States could be classified as such, given the effects of p ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written and heart-breaking novel about urban indigenous people living in Oakland as they prepare for a pow wow.
Blue Tarpalechee
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Buckle up.

Here's the TL;DR for mobile users standing in the bookstore, waffling in front of the flashy agent orange display: buy this book.

Tommy Orange’s novel is so tight and polished that it’s easy to forget this is his debut. The smart prose is presented through unflinching, honest characters in a momentum building narrative whose climax is as satisfying as it is brutal.

The book has immense heart and never strays outside of it despite exploring themes that are at once familiar and disparate.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it

Tommy Orange’s debut novel There There (taken from the famous Gertrude Stein quote regarding Oakland, California: there is no there there) opens with a prologue (don’t skip it) regarding the image above. This image is the test pattern that appeared on television screens in the days when broadcasting stations shut down and went off the air overnight. The image is a bit of nostalgia for some, but also a sad reminder of how white Americans viewed Native Americans at that time. Orange is out to s
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cheyenne and Arapaho author Orange has written a compelling debut novel about twelve urban Native Americans living in Oakland, California. As Orange writes in the prologue, “We know the sound of the freeway better than we do rivers, the howl of distant trains better than wolf howls, we know the smell of gas and freshly wet concrete and burned rubber better than we do the smell of cedar or sage or even fry bread.”
Orange moves the story from one character to the next. Slowly these disconnected sto
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I can’t believe this is a debut. There There is so complex and heart breaking. The only (and very small) issue is that there were a few too many characters and it became a little hard to keep track. The ending was so shocking and abrupt I’m having a hard time putting my feelings into words. I can’t wait to see what Orange does next.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Give me a sixth fucking star.
Author Tommy Orange has constructed a multiple point of view tale spinning and weaving the threads that dissect and blend between 12 Native American individuals and each of their journeys all traveling to one destination; an Oakland, CA powwow. The pages burst and resonate with addiction, love, despair, hope, tragedy, family, and the power of pride, honor, and tradition. This puissant story has an uncomfortable but necessary dialog that needs addressing with a remarkable conclusion and is perfec ...more
oh my gosh, this is so good. It's a novel told through an interlinking set of stories/chapters about a large cast of characters, all of whom are American Indians, and I found each character so compelling that I was simultaneously mad and excited every time a POV changed, I'd read a full book about each of them individually. UGH so beautiful on a sentence level and so powerful on a story level.
Rod Brown
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-real-books

A seemingly straightforward story about separate Native American people coming together at a powwow in Oakland, California, becomes richer and more complex as their individual narratives start to reveal a web of connections between the characters. Reaching back decades to the Native American occupation of Alcatraz and coming to a head with a crime planned for the present day gathering, the story is full of anger, bitterness, love and joy as the various characters explore, question, despise
Dene Oxendene’s uncle has died leaving him with a camera and the ambitious idea of a culture's identity. He sets out to interview Native Americans and in There There, Tommy Orange achieves this on a broader scale with the hard-hitting truths of a deculturized people and celebratory thanksgiving dinners. There There reaches thundering heights when bullets made at our own Black Hills Ammunition travels cross-country to intersect with so many people attending the Big Oakland Powwow.
Wow. What a debut. A novel in stories, introducing and reintroducing you to the characters, about Urban Indians in Oakland, California. There are so many lines I will need to track down again--just so much dark, true brilliance here. The characters all converge at a powwow in the end, and when the story ends, you are heartbroken--you want to know what happens next. Just so, so powerful.

"The chip you carry has to do with being born and raised in Oakland. A concrete chip, a slab really, heavy on o
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely breathtaking collection of interwoven fictional stories about the modern Native American experience in the city of Oakland. Do yourself a favor and immediately read this incredible novel! Tommy Orange's debut is not to be missed!
Danny Caine
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tommy Orange’s There There is an ambitious and downright stunning debut novel. With care and cleverness, Orange traces several characters young and old as they converge upon the Big Oakland Powwow. Through their occasionally converging lives, Orange paints the most vivid picture of urban Indian life I’ve ever seen in fiction. The fun of reading There There comes from tracing the connections between the characters. As the book progresses, everyone’s paths to the powwow cross, dance, and diverge t ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are pieces of history that are glossed over and as an adult your heart hurts with the knowledge of what has happened to people in history and present day that make our society what it is today.
This is so true with There There. The plight of the American Indians from the early days of the Colonists to present day is a story of a tragic struggle. From King Philip's War to the real struggle of a strong group of people who have been batted down for centuries is horrifying.
Tommy Orange writes w
Christina Marroquin
Hands down the best thing I’ve read this year.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of those books that when you finish will be left with underlinings and brackets around phrases and paragraphs that catch at your heart or your mind.
Kathleen Van Vickle
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book took me a little while to digest. The novel is the story of 12 separate individual's path to the Big Oakland Pow-wow. Each chapter is that person's story told in a distinct individual's voice. The prologue and the first chapter slap you in the face, and it just gets better from there. Using a different voice per chapter is not an entirely new or unique literary device, but the author used it to great advantage. It really opened up my eyes to the world of the Urban Native. Something I d ...more
Arianna Rebolini
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely astounding. Distinct characters written with great care and humanity, lyrical prose juxtaposed with honest voices. A gutting story of identity, history, and fate.
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was blown away by this novel, which charts the experiences of many different Native people in present day America, in an urban environment. The way it synthesises lots of different voices to form one narrative, culminating in a powwow in California, reminded me a little of All Involved by Ryan Gattis. There are a number of terribly sad stories, as some characters struggle with addiction and some turn to crime due to poverty; and there are also sections which bring home the awful history of how ...more
Ilyssa Wesche
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was largely the reason I trekked down to Philly for PA. I'm glad I did! Each chapter is told from a different person's perspective, which I always love, and their characters are so well-written that they're all well-rounded and fleshed out by the book's end. (There are a LOT of people to keep track of, but I muddled through.) I felt like I understood everyone's backstory enough to also understand their present and why things ended up the way they did.

I waffled between three and four s
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California.
More about Tommy Orange
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Apologies don’t even mean as much as just…just acknowledging that you fucked up, hurt people, and that you don’t wanna do that anymore. Not to yourself either. That’s sometimes the hardest part.” 0 likes
“They took everything and ground it down to dust as fine as gunpowder, they fired their guns into the air in victory and the strays flew out into the nothingness of histories written wrong and meant to be forgotten. Stray bullets and consequences are landing on our unsuspecting bodies even now.” 0 likes
More quotes…