Skip to main content
Displaying 1 of 1
There there
Please select and request a specific volume by clicking one of the icons in the 'Find It' section below.
Find It
Map It
First Chapter or Excerpt
Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield  Me and my sister, Jacquie, were doing our homework in the living room with the TV on when our mom came home withthe news that we'd be moving to Alcatraz.      "Pack your things. We're going over there. Today," our mom said. And we knew what she meant. We'd been over there to celebrate not celebrating Thanksgiving.      Back then we lived in East Oakland, in a yellow house. It was the brightest but smallest house on the block. A two-bedroom with a tiny kitchen that couldn't even fit a table. I didn't love it there, the carpets were too thin and smelled like dirt and smoke. We didn't have a couch or TV at first, but it was definitely better than where we were before.      One morning our mom woke us up in a hurry, her face was beat up. She had a brown leather jacket way too big for her draped over her shoulders. Both her top and bottom lips were swollen. Seeing those big lips messed me up. She couldn't talk right. She told us to pack our things then too.      Jacquie's last name is Red Feather, and mine is Bear Shield. Both our dads had left our mom. That morning our mom came home beat up, we took the bus to a new house, the yellow house. I don't know how she got us a house. On the bus I moved closer to my mom and put a hand into her jacket pocket.      "Why do we got names like we do?" I said.      "They come from old Indian names. We had our own way of naming before white people came over and spread all those dad names around in order to keep the power with the dads."       I didn't understand this explanation about dads. And I didn't know if Bear Shield meant shields that bears used to protect themselves, or shields people used to protect themselves against bears, or were the shields themselves made out of bears? Either way it was all pretty hard to explain in school, how I was a Bear Shield, and that wasn't even the worst part. The worst part was my first name, which was two: Opal Viola. That makes me Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield. Victoria was our mom's name, even though she went by Vicky, and Opal Viola came from our grandma who we never met. Our mom told us she was a medicine woman and renowned singer of spiritual songs, so I was supposed to carry that big old name around with honor. The good thing was, the kids didn't have to do anything to my name to make fun of me, no rhymes or variations. They just said the whole thing and it was funny. We got on a bus on a cold gray morning in late January 1970. Me and Jacquie had matching beat-up old red duffel bags that didn't hold much, but we didn't have much. I packed two outfits and tucked my teddy bear, Two Shoes, under my arm. The name Two Shoes came from my sister, because her childhood teddy bear only had one shoe the way they got it. Her bear wasn't named One Shoe, but maybe I should have considered myself lucky to have a bear with two shoes and not just one. But then bears don't wear shoes, so maybe I wasn't lucky either but something else.  Out on the sidewalk, our mom turned to face the house. "Say goodbye to it, girls."      I'd gotten used to keeping an eye on the front door. I'd seen more than a few eviction notices. And sure enough, one was right there. Our mom always kept them up so she could claim she never saw them, in order to buy time.       Me and Jacquie looked up at the house. It'd been okay, the yellow house. For what it was. The first one we'd been in without either of the dads, so it'd been quiet, and even sweet, like the banana cream pie our mom made the first night we spent there, when the gas worked but the electricity hadn't been turned on yet, and we ate standing up in the kitchen, in candlelight.      We were still thinking of what to say when our mom yelled "Bus!" and we had to scamper after her, dragging our matching red duffel bags behind us. It was the middle of the day, so hardly anyone was on the bus. Jacquie sat a few seats back like she didn't know us, like she was riding alone. I wanted to ask my mom more about the island, but I knew she didn't like to talk on the bus. She turned like Jacquie. Like we all didn't know each other.      "Why should we speak our business around people we don't even know?" she'd say.      After a while, I couldn't take it anymore. "Mom," I said."What are we doing?"      "We're going to be with our relatives. Indians of All Tribes. We're going over to where they built that prison. Gonna start from the inside of the cell, which is where we are now, Indian people, that's where they got us, even though they don't make it seem like they got us there. We're gonna work our way out from the inside with a spoon. Here, look at this."      She handed me a laminated card from her purse the size of a playing card. It was that picture you see everywhere, the sad-Indian-on-a-horse silhouette, and on the other side it said Crazy Horse's Prophecy . I read it: Upon suffering beyond suffering; the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations, when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again.      I didn't know what she was trying to tell me with that card, or about the spoon. But our mom was like that. Speaking in her own private language. I asked her if there would be monkeys. I thought for some reason that all islands had monkeys. She didn't answer my question, she just smiled and watched the long gray Oakland streets stream by the bus window like it was an old movie she liked but had seen too many times to notice anymore. Excerpted from There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  New York Times Review

THE TRUTH ABOUT ANIMALS: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales From the Wild Side of Wildlife, by Lucy Cooke. (Basic Books, $16.99.) From the marvelous to the utterly bizarre, there's an astonishing diversity of life on display in this book. Cooke, a noted zoologist and documentarían, devotes each of her chapters to a misunderstood creature, upending our assumptions and beliefs about animals. THERE THERE, by Tommy Orange. (Vintage, $16.) This polyphonic debut novel is centered on a group of Native Americans as they travel to a powwow in Oakland, Calif. Structured as a series of short chapters featuring different characters, the book raises questions of identity, belonging and history's relationship to the present. "There There" was named one of the Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2018. IN THE ENEMY'S HOUSE: The Secret Saga of the FBI Agent and the Code Breaker Who Caught the Russian Spies, by Howard Blum. (Harper Perennial, $17.99.) Blum looks at the two men who helped track down Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and whose work uncovered a secret Soviet spy network. The book reads like a detective thriller as it describes their efforts, and offers a fresh consideration of Cold War-era history. LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE, by Celeste Ng. (Penguin, $17.) An Ohio town is rattled when the house of a wealthy white family is set ablaze. As Ng delves into the past to help solve the mystery, the town is further cast into turmoil by the disappearance of two newcomers, a mother and teenage daughter, and a custody battle springing from an interracial adoption. Our reviewer, Eleanor Henderson, praised the book's "vast and complex network of moral affiliations - and the nuanced omniscient voice that Ng employs to navigate it." TIGER WOODS, by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian. (Simon & Schuster, $18.) There's no shortage of biographies of Woods, but this one stands out for the new details it uncovers about the athlete's rise to become a champion - and his eventual fall from grace. As the Times critic Dwight Garner wrote of the book, "It has torque and velocity, even when all of Woods's shots, on the course and off it, begin heading for the weeds." MOTHERHOOD, by Sheila Heti. (Picador, $18.) The narrator of Heti's latest book, a female writer in her late 30s, wrestles with her ambivalence about having a child before time runs out. As the woman untangles her feelings - "I resent the spectacle of all this breeding, which I see as a turning away from the living," she says - the novel becomes a broader exploration of creativity, art and selfhood.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Orange's commanding debut chronicles contemporary Native Americans in Oakland, as their lives collide in the days leading up to the city's inaugural Big Oakland Powwow. Bouncing between voices and points of view, Orange introduces 12 characters, their plotlines hinging on things like 3-D-printed handguns and VR-controlled drones. Tony Loneman and Octavio Gomez see the powwow as an opportunity to pay off drug debts via a brazen robbery. Others, like Edwin Black and Orvil Red Feather, view the gathering as a way to connect with ancestry and, in Edwin's case, to meet his father for the first time. Blue, who was given up for adoption, travels to Oklahoma in an attempt to learn about her family, only to return to Oakland as the powwow's coordinator. Orvil's grandmother, Jacquie, who abandoned her family years earlier, reappears in the city with powwow emcee Harvey, whom she briefly dated when the duo lived on Alcatraz Island as adolescents. Time and again, the city is a magnet for these individuals. The propulsion of both the overall narrative and its players are breathtaking as Orange unpacks how decisions of the past mold the present, resulting in a haunting and gripping story. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
ONE OF THE 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR -- THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW <p> WINNER OF THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE <p>One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR , Time, O, The Oprah Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Globe, GQ, The Dallas Morning News, Buzzfeed, BookPage, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews <p>NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLER <p> Tommy Orange's "groundbreaking, extraordinary" ( The New York Times ) There There is the "brilliant, propulsive" ( People Magazine ) story of twelve unforgettable characters, Urban Indians living in Oakland, California, who converge and collide on one fateful day. It's "the year's most galvanizing debut novel" ( Entertainment Weekly ). <p> As we learn the reasons that each person is attending the Big Oakland Powwow--some generous, some fearful, some joyful, some violent--momentum builds toward a shocking yet inevitable conclusion that changes everything. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle's death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle's memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and will to perform in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and loss. <p> There There is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen . It's "masterful . . . white-hot . . . devastating" ( The Washington Post ) at the same time as it is fierce, funny, suspenseful, thoroughly modern, and impossible to put down. Here is a voice we have never heard--a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force. Tommy Orange has written a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. This is the book that everyone is talking about right now, and it's destined to be a classic.
Librarian's View
Displaying 1 of 1