Wandering Stars

Books on Tape. Feb. 2024. 9:38 hrs. ISBN 9780593824559. $85.50. F
Orange’s second novel orbits the landscape from his unflinching debut, There There, mining Orvil Red Feather’s lineage, beginning with his great-great-great-grandfather Jude Star, who narrowly escapes the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre and is later imprisoned in Florida. The trauma inherited from these earliest relatives—notably, the bitter legacy of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School—reverberates throughout Orvil’s unsettled life, which strains under the weight of addiction and grief. An ensemble of 10 talented narrators join their voices in an alternating chorus as they read the characters’ memories, experiences, and thoughts. Standout performances include MacLeod Andrews as Carlisle School founder Richard Henry Pratt, whose weathered voice reveals deep-seated racism masquerading as benevolence. Blackfeet narrator Shaun Taylor-Corbett’s depiction of Orvil is layered, capturing his descent into worsening addiction and also his cautious path toward recovery. Oglala Lakota/Mohawk narrator Charley Flyte provides a steady, sorrowful monologue directed toward her unborn daughter, and Blackfeet/Cherokee narrator Curtis Michael Holland brings out the prickly momentum in Sean Price’s search for belonging.
VERDICT A devastating account of forced assimilation, the search for cultural identity, and the ravages of addiction, told through the shifting perspectives of Orange’s layered, wounded characters. An essential purchase.
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