Our selection process for the On the Same Page featured text begins in January for the following year. A selection committee made up of four faculty members and one librarian spends the spring term reading widely in search of books or other works that will be a good fit for the program. At the end of spring, each committee member names three or four titles that he or she would like the rest of the committee to consider. Over the summer the committee members read one another's top picks. At the end of summer, the committee meets in person to choose three or four of these titles, which become our finalists. Over the fall term a team of thirty to fifty undergraduates read the finalist texts and submit input electronically. The L&S deans also spend the fall term reading the finalist texts. In December the deans meet, and, taking into consideration all the input from the selection committee and the student reviewers, they choose the text that will be featured in the following year.

The result of this rigorous process in 2018 was the selection of There There for the On the Same Page featured text of 2019. It met all of our program's criteria: for instance, it's well written, thought provoking, and open to interpretation and analysis from many disciplinary standpoints. Its author is someone our students would benefit from encountering, and the book is nearly impossible to put down. The setting, in nearby Oakland, is a bonus: it will acquaint new students with their new home in the Bay Area. And it's original, with its focus on the urban Native American experience. Student reviewers offered comments such as these:

"[E]very aspect of this book seems like a strength. It's very powerful, the story is compelling, the ending is devastating. This book makes you feel intensely and think about all sorts of things. It does an incredible job at making the reader imagine people complexly. There is no one in the book you don't empathize with, there is no one character you can call a villain. Every character is so complicated and flawed and deserving of compassion."

"The visceral emotions of the different characters come across vibrantly and beautifully. In following multiple characters throughout the novel, readers see multiple perspectives and personalities that they can relate to on some level. Additionally, the novel's focus on indigenous identity, familial troubles, and its setting in Oakland makes it very relevant and important to a wide range of readers and in today's time."

"It is a unique book that teaches the hardships of life, and at the same time teaches the beauty of it."

"I just found the book incredibly moving. I also learned a lot; reading this book on Thanksgiving was a really strange experience, and I had very different feelings this Thanksgiving break than I did last year. It's made me rethink a lot in my life. I think everyone should read it."

We are fortunate that Mr. Orange has agreed to visit our campus to kick off the program in August. Students who attend his keynote event are sure to be inspired by his message, and they will learn first hand that one of the many advantages of attending a university of Berkeley's caliber is the opportunity to encounter authors and other notable figures in person. 

Let the stimulating discussions of this celebrated work begin!