Good Read

There There - Tommy Orange

There are people who wonder why the need for diverse books exists. Sometimes they can admit that there are not enough minorities in works of fiction, but that is usually followed by something along the lines of “minorities should write them then”. Combine that with the issue of approbation and these same people then add something like “why should white men write about other groups when they always combine it is wrong”. Of course, that is the answer to the question itself. But a book like this is another answer as well.

Good literature is both unique and all embracing. There is a reason why we still read Hamlet and Chaucer today, and it is not simply because English teachers brain washed everyone. Hamlet may have been written by a dead white guy and is about a rich white guy in a really crappy situation. Yet the questions he poses, his internal struggles resonate with everyone.

The thing is that only using white guys to showcase the things that every one feels implies that everyone has the same struggles and attacks them in the same way. In other words, it is the same story with small changes.

Books like There There have that same timeless aura. But like many books by diverse authors, it is those timeless issues as seen through a different culture, class, race, nationality, or gender. This isn’t to say that x’s struggle is worth more than y’s struggle. But you do not understand or emphasize with people unless you learn about them. Diverse books, movies, and television shows allow that to happen.

There There is about a varied group of people, mostly (but not entirely) Cheyenne, who all converge on the Big Oakland Powwow. It deals with issues that are unique to the Indigenous segment of the population, but also touches on those issues that every single part of the American population is dealing with – violence and drugs.

The group of people whom the novel focuses on includes men and women, and one character suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. Some of them are struggling with substance abuse issues, some with identity issues, some with the aftereffects of crime. All are struggling with colonialism.

The pacing is slightly slow in the beginning. It starts with history and but quickly move to today. Slowly but surely the threads of the story are tied together. It is not a perfect book but it is darn close.

The story is part of the tapestry of American life