Wandering Stars: A novel

We rated this book:


Fans of Tommy Orange’s debut novel There There from 2018 are clamoring to read his latest book, Wandering Stars, which–in some ways–functions as both prequel and sequel to There There. Unfortunately, despite incredibly descriptive moments and prose that borders on the poetic in some places, the novel doesn’t have the same urgency and magic of Orange’s first book.

The first half of Wandering Stars traces the back story and ancestry of the characters at the heart of There There. One couple in particular, Charles Star and Opal Viola Bear Shield, are compelling and their story is complex–I found myself wanting an entire novel devoted solely to them. But, their section ends abruptly and we move on to another part of the family tree that eventually leads to Jacqui Red Feather, a major player from There There. The nonlinear structure that worked in There There, each chapter is devoted to a different character, simply doesn’t gel in Wandering Stars.

The second half of the novel focuses on the aftermath of the tragedy that occurs in There There, and it could be a brilliant novel on its own. In fact, I found myself wishing it was a separate book. Wandering Stars, were it split and expanded into two other books to make a trilogy with There There, would give the characters more room to breathe and readers more to invest in as the larger narrative unfolds.

Reviewed By:

Author Tommy Orange
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 336 pages
Publisher Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publish Date 27-Feb-2024
ISBN 9780593318256 Buy this Book
Issue May 2024
Category Modern Literature