Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Round House

I recently read my first Louise Erdrich novel. I have listened to people rave about her newest book, The Round House, for almost a year, but I had to wait until it made it's way to the top of my ever-growing reading list. If you are not familiar with the author, Louise Erdrich is the daughter of a Chippewa Indian mother and a German-American father. Erdrich's writing  explores Native-American themes with major characters representing both sides of her heritage.
The Round House is the story of a family, but also the difficulty of law, and the coming-of-age of a young man. Joe is a thirteen year old boy looking forward to summer break on the North Dakota reservation where he lives with his mother and father. On a Sunday afternoon, life on the reservation begins to change when Joe’s mother is brutally attacked. Joe becomes intent on healing his mother by finding the attacker. He becomes angry with the law that his father, the tribal judge, must follow and sets out with his three best friends to solve what the police can’t or won’t. In the midst of this, Joe’s family life begins to unravel, but he finds a plethora of new friends that reach out to him during this time.
Erdrich tells the stories of several characters beautifully. Joe is at the center, but we are given the history of the land, people, and tribal law through Erdrich’s beautiful storytelling. One of the best attributes of the book is Erdrich’s ability to keep Joe in tune with normal thirteen year old boy issues in the midst of this crisis. He worries about his mom, he reads law books, and he thinks about girls. Her ability to handle character descriptions and development made this an incredibly enjoyable read.

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