The Pulitzer Prize-finalist and author of the breakout bestseller There There, Tommy Orange traces the legacies of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School through three generations of a family in a story that is by turns shattering and wondrous.

Content Warnings: Addiction, mass shooting, U.S. Indigenous residential schools, genocide, violence, death, self-harm, abandonment, mention of rape (off-page).

Colorado, 1864. Star, a young survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre, is brought to the Fort Marion prison castle, where he is forced to learn English and practice Christianity by Richard Henry Pratt, an evangelical prison guard who will go on to found the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, an institution dedicated to the eradication of Native history, culture, and identity. A generation later, Star’s son, Charles, is sent to the school, where he is brutalized by the man who was once his father’s jailer. Under Pratt’s harsh treatment, Charles clings to moments he shares with a young fellow student, Opal Viola, as the two envision a future away from the institutional violence that follows their bloodlines.

In a novel that is by turns shattering and wondrous, Tommy Orange has conjured the ancestors of the family readers first fell in love with in There There—warriors, drunks, outlaws, addicts—asking what it means to be the children and grandchildren of massacre. Wandering Stars is a novel about epigenetic and generational trauma that has the force and vision of a modern epic, an exceptionally powerful new book from one of the most exciting writers at work today and soaring confirmation of Tommy Orange’s monumental gifts.

Don't just take our word for it...

“For the sake of knowing, of understanding, Wandering Stars blew my heart into a thousand pieces and put it all back together again. This is a masterwork that will not be forgotten, a masterwork that will forever be part of you.”
– Morgan Talty, bestselling author of Night of the Living Rez

“No one knows how to express tenderness and yearning like Tommy Orange. With an all-seeing heart, he traces historical and contemporary cruelties, vagaries, salvations and solutions visited upon young Cheyenne people, who cope with the impossible. In them, Tommy finds the unnerving strength that results when a broken spirit mends itself, when a wandering star finds its place, when, in spite of everything, Native people manage to survive.”
– Louise Erdrich, author of The Sentence

“If there was any doubt after his incredible debut, there should be none now: Tommy Orange is one of our most important writers. The way he weaves time and life together, demands we remember how our history shapes us. In this novel the pain and resilience of generations are summoned beautifully. A wonderous journey and a necessary reminder.”
– Nana Kwame Adjei Brenyah, author of Chain Gang All Stars

Taste the very first page

Part One, Before, 1924
Jude Star, Winter

I thought I heard birds that morning time just before the morning light, after I shot up scared of men so white they were blue. I’d been having dreams of blue men with blue breath, and the sound of birds was the slow squeaking of wheels, the rolling of mountain howitzers approaching our camp at dawn.

The bad dreams had been coming for weeks leading up to that morning, so I’d taken to sleeping with my grandmother, Spotted Hawk. She’d prayed for me before I closed my eyes to sleep, blew smoke in my face after rolling up some tobacco in a corn husk, then sang me the song that slowed my breath and made my eyelids heavy.

From inside the tipi I thought it was thunder, or buffalo, then I saw the purple-orange dawn light through the holes made by bullets in the walls of the tipi.

People outside ran or they died there having been picked off running.

Looking back, everything that happened before Sand Creek seemed to belong to someone else, someone I once knew, as I once knew my mother’s perfect smile, my father’s crooked one…