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Another incredibly powerful novel by Louise Erdrich. I thought I knew where the story was going but I was pleasantly surprised by the time I finished. Erdrich crafts immensely difficult subject matter into a story which I was compelled to read - I believe this is because of her gift in story-telling. She weaves characters together, whether it is trauma or ordinary coming-of-age situations, with such skill that the reader welcomes each one with open arms and hearts. I absolutely loved this book!
There was a point in this book when I finished a page and felt like my eyes had been opened. I think my awakening coincided with an expansion of Joe's (main character) awareness of his circumstanses and the history of his people. Previous to this point Erdich describes life on the reservation, a place of limited opportunities compared to the outside world, which is exposed through the media of television and movies. After the point where I awoke the author began speaking in a more poetic manner, connecting age old stories with the current conditions and Joe's understanding of the world. I felt disappointed at the end, not with any fault of the author, but with the reality of the life that Joe was walking into.
While I feel like this covered a very delicate topic and included a lot of relevant information I found this read to be a bit slow. It took me a while to get through this book unfortunately and I didn't find it as riveting as I had hoped. Overall I applaud the author for the topic of choice but feel the story could have been told better.
One of my all-time favorite novels. I am "in the tank" for Louise Erdrich.
What happens when a heinous crime is committed but a matter of geography means nobody has the authority to prosecute? Joe Coutts is 13 years old, a resident of the North Dakota Ojibwe Reservation. His father is a judge and his mother is the tribal enrollment officer.
When his mother is beaten and raped, the family must deal with their own emotions and relationships, and also a legal system that is full of holes when it comes to protecting Native Americans.
There are some raw emotions in this powerfully told story. The characters are real and layered. Erdrich does not go for an easy feel-good resolution. Though political issues help drive the plot, it's not preachy.
After reading this novel I knew more about and I cared more about the injustice that Native Americans face every day. That speaks volumes to the power of Erdich's storytelling, as she uses the voice of a 13 year old boy to draw the reader into a story where a powerful white man commits a sordid crime against a Native American woman. The woman Geraldine, the 13 year old boy is Joe and his world is shattered when his vibrant mother is suddenly transformed into a shell of what she once was by a violent attack. Joe's father is a tribal judge, so you would expect he would know how to make sure that his wife's attacker is captured and prosecuted. However the location of the attack is unclear and the laws regarding who governs reservation land render Joe's dad and Joe's community powerless. In between moments of normal teenage fun with his friends and learning about Native American ways from his elders, Joe gradually learns more and more about what happened to his mother and how powerless his family is to stop her attacker. He then faces an awful choice--should he take the law into his own hands?
This book, though it tackles a grim subject, is also filled with lighthearted moments as Joe and his friends indulge in the normal escapades of youth--such as fooling around with girls and antagonizing the local Catholic priest. The reader also gets to experience life on a reservation through Joe's interactions with his bawdy older female relatives, the stories his ancient great uncle, and the pow wow gatherings he attends. These all mesh together to make for a highly enjoyable and thought provoking read. It was an excellent choice for our book discussion group, as the issues of justice it raised gave us plenty to talk about and we were also able to laugh over some of Joe's adventures.
For me it was interesting to learn about some of the traditions of the native North American Indians, which they are following up to now, at least, at a time in question of the book - - 80s of last century. The confusion in the mind of a teenager, who was swept by challenges of adult life, which he decided to solve by himself. At times, the book becomes tedious. But then, again, as if picking up the rhythm after a short sleep.
The Round House was my first of Louise Erdrich's books and I've since read Plague of Doves and am working on her children's book, The Birchbark House. There is something about her writing that makes me want to continue reading, even when the subject matters revolve around death and murder and racism. They are difficult reads, yet you're compelled to keep reading and feel better for it at the end.
Joe must find out who brutally attacked his mother - even if it means going outside the law.
Would also recommend "Love Medicine" and "The Plague of Doves" by the same author.
Starts slow--with weeding, of all things.
Then, once the reader understands the impact of Geraldine's "incident," things heat up in a hurry.
Multiple generations of Ojibwe people are shown, interacting with each other and with non-Native Americans. We are shown, often through the eyes of a 13-year-old boy, the everyday comings and going on the rez.
At times, given the legal issues explored in this book, The Round House is reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird: A precocious kid living with a judge/ lawyer, growing up way too fast in societies with dark sides.
There are some pretty funny scenes in this, especially those involving the Ojibwe seniors.
I didn't love the ending, but I understand why Erdrich wrote it the way she did.
This is a wonderful book, brilliant in so many ways. It is very funny, with many memorable characters like the old grandmother who feeds everyone or the very cool aunt. It is complex in its portrayal of the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people. It sees the world through the eyes of a 13 year old boy and reveals nothing to the reader beyond his perception and perspective. It subtly contrasts religion and indigenous spirituality. Friends and family are supportive and solid to one another in a culture from which so much can be learned. Storytelling at its very best.
I literally laughed and cried. The Round House is a true coming of age story, compelling at every turn. The content is quite difficult, given the topic, but the writing flows and the narrator's voice brings levity. I even recommended it to my dad!
This was such a wonderful story. I drive 1.5 hrs every day for work and this book kept me entranced and not wanting to arrive! Erdrich is such an amazing storyteller, I can't recommend it highly enough.
This is a well written novel that touches on so many important topics. The study of teenaged boys has a true quality.
Where a crime is committed against a Native American by a white person makes all the difference in this powerful coming-of-age novel that highlights the very real issue of tribal sovereignty. Couldn’t put it down.
Wow. So much of this book made me think, "wait, what?" Growing up hearing theAmerican government's side of the story, I had no idea some of the governmental regulation and legal stupidity that still persisted due to treaties and acts enacted on reservations and in tribes in this country. A beautiful story told while also enlightening me to a subculture that should not been so silenced in the histories we learn in school.
Very nicely written. A crime novel mixed with lovely story telling. I was worried that the details of the crime would be gratuitous, however it was handled very well. Good book.
Very good. Learned a lot about the Native Americans. The State and Local Police do not work well with Tribal Laws.
Winner of the 2012 National Book Award for fiction, The Round House is a darkly moving coming-of-age story, beautifully and suspensefully written. On an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, thirteen-year-old Joe’s mother, Geraldine, is violently attacked. She immediately falls into a crippling depression, refusing to talk about what happened, hardly eating, and never leaving her upstairs bedroom. While Geraldine is suspended in a silent languishing, Joe and his father begin to piece together the details of the crime, intent on pursuing justice. But justice is complicated and doesn’t come easily, as Joe learns. For Joe, it’s a time full of serious and terrible wonder. The Round House is a powerful novel and highly recommended.