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  • Writer's pictureChrissy

Review: Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange

In There, There we follow along in the lives of multiple people (I hate calling them characters because they are written with incredible realism) who are interconnected in ways that some of them may never realize, as they prepare for a Powwow in Oakland, California.


In Wandering Stars we are provided both a prequel and a sequel to the events that culminated at the end of There, There. We are given the origin story for the generational trauma that weaves through the lives or Opal, Jacquie and their three grandsons. What happened to Star at the Sand Creek Massacre was barely a drop in the bucket for everything the family has endured over the years, and with Orvil having survived the Big Powwow, maybe through him and his brothers, the enduring will end and the living will begin.


I reread There, There in preparation for the release of this book. I wanted to remember everything, and I am glad I did. Once you get through the "Before" of Wandering Stars, you are just kind of dropped into the aftermath of There, There (which is the title of that section of the book) without much context provided except for the viewpoints of all the generations before Opal, Jacquie, Orvil, Lony, and Loother. Star's story was incredibly hard for me to get through. You are given a peek at the atrocities committed against the Indigenous Americans and it comes with a warning... This is not over. What has been done, will continue to happen without changes within humanity as a whole.


In There, There we saw the time on Alcatraz through Jacquie and Opals eyes, but in Wandering Stars we are able to view the experience through their mother and in that we get a better understanding of the girls as they moved into womanhood and how their lives led them in such separate directions. Throughout the "Aftermath" there's this sense of suspense that is intwined with these moments of hope. Like the entire family is waiting for something, some other event to occur before any one of them can move on from the events of There, There.


Honestly, this book left me with a lot of feelings and thoughts that I don't really know what to do with. There, There was heavy but Wandering Stars is brutal in the fact that many of the events tie into things happening in the world today. I think this is one that I will be ruminating on for a long time to come. It feels wrong to rate a book that feels so close to what reality is for many, so I won't. I will just say that if you enjoyed There, There, if you have an appreciation for fiction that feels like non-fiction, then Wandering Stars is a book for you. I definitely think that both books would be tremendous educational reading for those in high school and above.


Huge thanks to Netgalley and Knopf for the advanced copy of this book.


Grab your own copy here.


Psst! Just so you know, some of the links sprinkled here are affiliate links. If you decide to click and treat yourself, I might get a little high-five in the form of a commission at no additional cost to you. Cheers to good vibes and a happy reading!

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