CBR11 BINGO: Own Voices and HALF CANNONBALL!
There are so many books out there that could easily be great candidates for the CBR Bingo “Own Voices” square. As a white, female reader, I know that I tend to gravitate towards novels about and by white, and often female, authors. I don’t have to scroll through my GoodReads to know that. While I do read across a wide range of genres, I am trying to make more of an effort to seek out books by other voices. Generationally, I am young enough to be aware of social justice but old enough to not always be aware of what I view through the lens of institutional bias. While it is not anyone’s job to “teach” me, I find that the voices that make me uncomfortable are the voices that make me more empathetic.
“There There” is a sweeping saga about a group of people converging at a powwow in Oakland California. Some of the characters are bound by blood and some by circumstance, but each struggle with their stories and their wounds. A young boy finds solace in traditional dance. A young man with Fetal Alcohol syndrome literally wears his mother’s wounds. A family passes down a darkness they think curses them all. A woman counsels those struggling with an addiction she shares and a burgeoning film maker attempts to carry on his Uncle’s legacy by documenting these stories.
This is a powerful debut novel. Orange opens up a world that I have little to no knowledge of beyond the film and television portrayal of life “on the res”. Orange supplants that here with what he refers to as the “urban Indian.” He follows the lives of multi-generational Native Americans that have established lives in cities and formed communities and cultural groups outside of ancestral lands.
There is a lot of buzz about this book and it is justified. Orange is a terrific writer and his book is unflinching and illuminating.