© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Book Public: 'Wandering Stars' by Tommy Orange

Ways To Subscribe
Tommy Orange
Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange’s second novel, Wandering Stars, has been called both a prequel and sequel to his acclaimed debut novel, There There. That first novel ends with a group of Indigenous characters who converge at a powwow in modern-day Oakland, California.

Wandering Stars traces generations of the family of Orvil Red Feather whom we meet in the first book.

The first part of this new novel begins in Colorado, 1864 and includes historical details of the Sand Creek Massacre and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

Jude Star is a survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre and is taken to the Fort Marion prison castle. He must learn English, learn to read the Bible and learn to practice Christianity —from Richard Henry Pratt, an evangelical prison guard who founded the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. This was an institution that was used to attempt to eradicate Native history, language, culture, and identity.

The son of Jude Star, Charles, is sent to that school. We learn of the many ways he suffers. Within that story, however, he falls in love with Opal Viola and imagines a life away from the hellish place where he hides his passion for writing.

From there, we follow the stories of the descendants of Charles and Opal, including some of the characters we first meet in There There, and the ways they must battle poverty, persecution, and addiction—as children of those who endured that long-ago massacre.

Wandering Stars is a novel about epigenetic and generational trauma. In the second part of the novel, the sequel portion to There There, we see how characters in contemporary times must continue to battle those old, relentless and insidious problems.

Tommy Orange is the author of Wandering Stars. He’s a graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, he was born and raised in Oakland, California. His first book, There There, was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize and received the 2019 American Book Award.

Yvette Benavides can be reached at bookpublic@tpr.org.