> Andrés N. Ordorica 'How We Named The Stars' (Book Review) - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Andrés N. Ordorica ‘How We Named The Stars’ (Book Review)

In How We Named the Stars, debut novelist Andrés N. Ordorica explores coming-of-age in a rocky landscape of grief and self-discovery.

Combining poetic descriptions of nature with sensual detail, the novel weaves the story of Daniel de la Luna, a shy literature student with a scholarship for the University of Cayuga. Daniel brings to college all the fears and insecurities many first-time students can relate to, as well as some complicated feelings around his family, concerning an uncle who died young, causing them to leave Mexico. However, the mystery of this takes a backseat to the freshman’s new roommate, handsome soccer player Sam Morris, who Daniel falls for.

The two become close friends, but Daniel is unsure whether his feelings are reciprocated. The novel is addressed to Sam – ‘I remember being afraid of you before we met’ — and this narrative voice pulls the reader into Daniel’s deepest thoughts, while also keeping us at some distance from the real detail of the story, so the pair’s first year adventures together feel almost like a dream, or a fading memory.

Against a backdrop of parties and soccer games, Daniel and Sam’s relationship develops, but it’s when Daniel goes to Mexico for the summer that the prose sharpens in focus. We begin to understand more of Daniel’s family history, along with the enriching effect of spending time with his relatives. Tragedy prompts Daniel to explore the decades-past death of his uncle, and the moments where Daniel bonds with his grandfather are emotional and moving, though late in the story.

How We Named the Stars powerfully contemplates love in the midst of loss, and the vulnerability required of us to share ourselves. Diving head-first into self-exploration, desire, and deep grief, this is a confident debut from the Edinburgh-based Ordorica.

How We Named the Stars is out now on Saraband. Available here.

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