How We Named the Stars

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A Best Book of January at The Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews, and Alta Journal

“A touching story about a transformative queer romance.”—The New York Times Book Review

Named a Best Debut Novelists of 2024 by The Observer(UK)

Set between the United States and México, Andrés N. Ordorica’s debut novel is a tender and lyrical exploration of belonging, grief, and first love—a love story for those so often written off the page.

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.



  • A tender coming-of-age novel.

    —The Washington Post, A Best Book of January

  • Dazzling. . . .  a heartbreaking tale of a first-generation college student exploring his sexuality and roots while reckoning with grief. Ordorica portrays Daniel and Sam’s encounters with tenderness and heat, and Daniel’s aching and poignant narration. . . . is chock-full of wisdom.

    —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

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

    —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

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


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

    —Barnes & Noble

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


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

    —Electric Literature

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

    —Shelf Awareness

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

    —Foreword Reviews

  • Heartfelt.

    —Alta Journal, A Best Book of January

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

    —Stylecaster, A Most Anticipated Book of 2024

  • 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.

    —Eduardo C. Corral, author of Guillotine

  • “A sensitive, queer campus novel.”

    — San Francisco Chronicle, A Best Book of Winter

  • 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.

    —Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men

  • 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.

    —Eloisa Amezcua, author of Fighting Is Like a Wife

  • 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.

    —Zak Salih, author of Let's Get Back to the Party

  • 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.

    —Richard Mirabella, author of Brother & Sister Enter the Forest

  • 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.

    —Analicia Sotelo, author of Virgin