How We Named the Stars

How We Named the Stars

by Andrés N. Ordorica

Narrated by Christian Barillas

Unabridged — 10 hours, 16 minutes

How We Named the Stars

How We Named the Stars

by Andrés N. Ordorica

Narrated by Christian Barillas

Unabridged — 10 hours, 16 minutes

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Notes From Your Bookseller

The kind of debut that launches a career, Andrés N. Ordorica's How We Named The Stars is beautiful and devastating, a tender and timeless tale about queer love, family and secrets. Inspired by the author's own experiences, this story tugs on the heartstrings with immensely human characters and a genuine examination of love and loss.

When Daniel de La Luna arrives as a scholarship student at an elite East Coast university, he bears the weight of his family's hopes and dreams-and the burden of sharing his late uncle's name. Daniel flounders at first, but then Sam, his roommate, changes everything. As their relationship evolves from brotherly banter to something more intimate, Daniel soon finds himself in love with a man who helps him see himself in a new light. But just as their relationship takes flight, Daniel is pulled away, first by Sam's hesitation and then by a brutal turn of events that changes Daniel's life forever. As he grapples with profound loss, Daniel finds himself in his family's ancestral homeland in México for the summer, finding joy in this setting even as he struggles to come to terms with what's happened and faces a host of new questions: How does the person he is connect with this place his family comes from? How is his own story connected to his late uncle's? And how might he reconcile the many parts of himself as he learns to move forward? Equal parts tender and triumphant, Andrés N. Ordorica's How We Named the Stars is a debut novel of love, heartache, redemption, and learning to honor the dead, a story of finding the strength to figure out who you are-and who you could be-if only the world would let you.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 10/09/2023

Poet Ordorica (At Least This I Know) makes his fiction debut with a heartbreaking tale of a first-generation college student exploring his sexuality and roots while reckoning with grief. Daniel De La Luna, who is secretly gay and a virgin, enters the fictional Cayuga College in Ithaca, N.Y., feeling like an outsider. He finds some measure of acceptance from his “brutally attractive” roommate, soccer player Sam Morris, who is also in the closet, and who the reader learns early on will die during their first summer break (the circumstances are revealed later). On a camping trip, Daniel “overflow with desire” for Sam, but is afraid to make a move and thus ruin their friendship. They share a drunken kiss, after which Daniel is wracked by guilt, regret, and fear. He senses that “the man of his dreams is bound to break his heart,” and an email from Sam at the end of freshman year does just that, as Sam suggests they break off contact because he’s not ready to explore his sexuality any further. Daniel heads to Chihuahua, Mexico, for the summer, where he learns more about his late uncle who was out and proud, and whom he was named after. While there, Daniel begins dating the rich and handsome Diego, but this promising relationship hits the skids after Daniel learns of Sam’s death. Another, equally devastating revelation causes Daniel to spiral. Ordorica portrays Daniel and Sam’s encounters with tenderness and heat, and Daniel’s aching and poignant narration, which seamlessly alternates between addressing the reader and speaking directly to Sam, is chock-full of wisdom. This is dazzling. Agent: Caro Clarke, Portobello. (Feb.)

a Most Anticipated Book of 2024 Debutiful

"Luxuriant and lyrical. . . . He has a master’s grasp on the written word."

Analicia Sotelo

"Andrés N. Ordorica has captured the crushing isolation of navigating an elite college for the first time, all while experiencing a powerful, yet unattainable first love. Named after his family’s late uncle, Daniel wrestles with the continued impact of loss even as he finds glimpses of comfort. This novel is an extended meditation on the relationship between joy and grief, and how it can bind and heal both a life and a family."

Eduardo C. Corral

"In Andrés N. Ordorica’s majestic novel, the emotional and intellectual life of Daniel de La Luna, a first-generation college student, is rendered beautifully, deftly. Belonging, for Daniel, is complicated by familial grief and self-doubt but a heart-shattering first love spurs him to cross and to erase the borders between him and those who love him. I’m especially moved by his bond with his Abuelo, which is impactful, instructive. Novels this well-written remind us reading is an intimacy, an immersive experience that enriches us beyond measure."

A Best Book of January The Washington Post

"A tender coming-of-age novel "

A Most Anticipated Debut of 2024 Barnes & Noble

"Beautiful and devastating, a tender and timeless tale about queer love, family and secrets."

Electric Literature

"A story of first love broken apart by tragedy, written as a love letter."

Richard Mirabella

"How We Named the Stars is a novel of first love and last rites. Ordorica captures perfectly the challenges of building a life out of experience, out of allowing ourselves to feel everything. A beautiful tale of friendship and the comfort found in stories of the past and in the arms of elders, living and dead."

Christopher Castellani

"In How We Named the Stars, Andrés N. Ordorica has crafted a radiant and deeply moving novel about the beauty and pain of love—for our partners, our families, and ourselves. An impressive emotional tour de force, and an extraordinary debut."

Shelf Awareness

"Fiercely impassioned. . . .a haunting tribute to love and survival."

A Most Anticipated Book of 2024 Stylecaster

"Dreamy. . . . Captivates from the get-go."

Eloisa Amezcua

"Love and loss, freedom and security, sex and identity— Andrés N. Ordorica's How We Named the Stars explores the desires and fears that live within us, that surface despite our attempts to tame or quiet them. In Ordorica's thoughtful prose, time becomes a character through which we come to learn the value of what can be gained when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to our deepest longings. The story of Daniel and Sam will be with us for years to come."

Zak Salih

"Andrés N. Ordorica has written an intimate, necessary story of first love, first loss, and the promise of new beginnings. This empowering novel is required reading for anyone struggling to uncover their most authentic self. "

Write or Die

"Lyrical. . . . brimming with emotion, connection, and sparkling visual imagery."

A Best Book of January Alta Journal


Foreword Reviews

"A sensitive story of a first love, How We Named the Stars is a nuanced coming-of-age novel about hiding, heartbreak, and healing."

The New York Times Book Review

"Meditative. . . . tender. . . . a touching story about a transformative queer romance. . . .  Ordorica’s use of nature as a metaphor throughout the story imbues the novel with a palpable sense of affection and profundity. . . . Ordorica’s novel basks in love’s everlasting promise."


"Ordorica delves into love and loss in two places and two times to powerful effect.  "

New York Times Book Review

Ordorica’s novel basks in love’s everlasting promise."

Washington Post

"A tender coming-of-age novel.”

Shelf Awarenss

"Fiercely impassioned. . . .a haunting tribute to love and survival."

JUNE 2024 - AudioFile

Christian Barillas beautifully narrates this touching yet tragic story of queer first love. Daniel De La Luna begins his freshman college year feeling like an outsider. Upon meeting his handsome new roommate, Sam Morris, Daniel cannot deny his feelings for the gentle young man. As the year progresses, it becomes clear that Sam reciprocates Daniel's love, care, and passion. When a tragic event leaves Daniel reeling, his family, especially his grandfather, offers him unconditional love and support. Barillas shines while portraying Daniel's grandfather with a Mexican accent and a wise, older voice full of love for his grandson. Sam's California surfer voice conveys differences between Sam and the neutral-sounding Daniel while adding humor. A.M. © AudioFile 2024, Portland, Maine

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2023-10-21
A college romance between two closeted young men spirals into a border-crossing story of tragic death, family secrets, and unexpected revelations.

Daniel Manuel de La Luna is the son of Mexican immigrants, a queer first-generation college student who’s woefully inexperienced in love—he’s described as a “naïve little cherub.” Timid and excited but uncertain what to expect, Daniel encounters his first campus surprise in the form of his roommate, Sam Morris, an attractive, athletic legacy admission who turns out to be funny and kind. The two partake in the usual first-year activities, going to parties and struggling with academic pressure, but they also share a number of intimate moments, including a very amusing scene during a camping trip that involves raucous bonding, morning spooning, and involuntary tumescence. This all launches a precarious, tender, adventurous romance, until Sam pulls back and decides to join a frat. While its depiction of college life is appealing, the novel really takes off when Sam and Daniel part ways after freshman year, and Daniel returns to Mexico with his family. There, he learns of Sam’s death (which is revealed in the book’s first pages) and must confront his own desires, his family’s past, and the truth about his namesake, an uncle named Daniel who was also gay. Ordorica cleverly intersperses excerpts from Tío Daniel’s letters as epigraphs to each chapter like a series of breadcrumbs that lead readers to discover the truth themselves, drawing them into the novel’s expertly depicted world.

Told with authenticity and compassion, this unconventional love story redefines notions of fraternity.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940160448978
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Publication date: 03/19/2024
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,005
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