There There by Tommy Orange
There was a lot of hype and advertising for this book – some claim it will be required reading in schools in future years based on awards it won. I had high hopes for the novel but … there was not enough substance.
The characters had varied backgrounds covering violence, family drama/relationships, self-identity struggles, addictions, and abuse… I think the author chose every cliche problem possible. The families are challenged in different ways and come to affect each other at the Big Oakland Powwow, the climax of the story.
There are heartbreaking moments and not an uplifting end, however I wish there was an even larger focus on culture and concise focus on the problems more specific to Native Americans. To me, it felt you could change the story too easily to fit a different demographic of characters. It was not unique enough or incorporating enough on how urban Native Americans struggle to continue their traditions throughout generations of disrespect from white populations in the US.
I expected detailed information on Native American cultures- not just to set the characters up but to educate readers on valued traditions, history, etc of Native Americans around the LA setting. I felt it (obviously) focused on the powwow event and value of relationships but not enough on other unique aspects that are still practiced. Personal opinion- but after how highly acclaimed the book was, I expected to come away learning/appreciating much more.