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The Round House

Cover: 'The Round House'

Staff Review: "The Round House" by Louise Erdrich

★★★★★

In the summer of 1988, life on a small North Dakota reservation changes dramatically for 13-year-old Joe Coutts and his father, Bazil, after they discover Joe’s mother, Geraldine, injured and incommunicative behind the wheel of her car.  Geraldine has been brutally raped, and in the aftermath Joe is forced to grow up quickly as he tries to manage his mother’s crippling depression and his father’s frustration over his inability, as a tribal judge, to find justice for his wife.  

This compelling novel is carried by Erdrich’s many wonderfully developed characters.  There’s teenage Joe and his motley collection of mischievous but intensely loyal friends, all dealing with adolescent angst while facing adult issues; Joe’s elderly, randy grandfather Mooshum who tells stories of their tribe while talking in his sleep; and Joe’s aunt Sonja, a stripper with a complicated history.  Erdrich weaves the stories of these characters together with beautiful texture while addressing real world issues facing Native Americans – most notably here, the flaws within the U.S. legal system when dealing with crimes committed on tribal land. 

Erdrich masterfully tells a tale incorporating the legal, spiritual, and emotional nuances of justice in its many forms.   

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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