Powerful, intense, and Oh-So-Worth your time to read.


A group of Urban Native American teens are preparing to attend the Big Oakland Powwow. Each feels a bit disconnected with their culture and is also struggling with life at home. Within the group are Dene Oxendene, an aspiring filmmaker; Octavio Gomez, a drug dealer; half-sisters Opal Viola, Victoria Bear Shield and Jacquie Red Feather; Jacquie’s culturally adrift grandchildren Orvil, Lony, and Loother; and Tony Loneman, a young angry man shamed by the scars of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. 

Octavio enlists the help of Tony and three friends to rob the powwow. The cash prizes are worth tens of thousands of dollars, and Octavio has in mind that Tony will take the fall for the theft. With the Powwow and Grand Showcase coming soon, members of the group are learning about themselves, how their stories are connected, and immersing themselves in the festivities. Are these changes impacting the planned theft? Or are Octavio and friends forging ahead? 

 BTSYA / Teen Reader (16):
I love the way the novel describes the historical elements that caused the divide between Native Americans and society. The context is important to understanding some of the events in the novel and the impact on individuals. Through the characters, the story makes the cultural reconnections with culture a lot more interesting to read

In addition to the historical aspect, I quite enjoyed the writing style. The author lets us into each character’s mind so we can understand their problems completely. This makes the story much more interesting and joins the plot together as we learn how the problems are so interconnected: they all stem from the same disconnect to one's culture. 

There There is important for all history buffs and anyone with an interest in US History. The story reveals Native American history, that is not found in textbooks. The book is fairly dark, but I think anyone 14 or older can handle it. If you don't like graphic violence, don't read this book. 

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers who like fiction that pushes them to think about history and opens their eyes to things they didn't know will find this book interesting. It is written for adults, but as our reviewer explains, it will appeal to teens, as well.

Content Awareness Factors:

The text includes profanity and extreme violence.

Type of Book:
This is a young adult novel that is both a historical fiction novel and part biographical.
Educational Themes:

This is a book that is part biography and part historical fiction. There is a lot to unpack from individual/personal development to societal norms and social activism.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
15 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
14 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 16

Title There There
Author Tommy Orange
Publisher Vintage Books, Imprint Knopf Doubleday © 2019 (Reprint Edition)
ISBN 9780525436140
Material Paperback
Cost $16.00
Genres Native & Indigenous People, Social Issues
be the star you are
Reminder: Cover images, amazon.com and indiebound.org links are affiliate links. The Reading Tub can earn income via purchases made via these links. 100% of any income goes directly to our literacy mission.

You May Also Like...

Check out these books you may also like


Author Elie Weisel
Publisher Hill and Wang © 2006
ISBN 9780374500016


Khaled Hosseini
Riverhead Books © 2013
be the star you are


Khurrum Rahman
HQ Publishing © 2020
be the star you are


Jhumpa Lahiri
Mariner Books, Division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt © 2004 (Reprint Edition)
be the star you are