Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Winner of the National Books Award in 2012, The Round House is just as much a coming of age story as it is a crime drama.  Our narrator, thirteen-year-old Joe, is faced with an event that will change life on a North Dakota reservation as he knows it.  His mother Geraldine is attacked and assaulted on a Sunday in the summer of 1988.  With no one else to turn to, her husband Bazil (the local tribal judge) confides in Joe and together the two begin to piece together the details of the attack.  Reservation politics make it difficult to determine where the crime was committed and who should be held responsible and Joe and his father fight for normalcy as they watch Geraldine sink lower and lower into solitude and fear.  As the summer days pass by, Joe and his three friends manage to find out who the attacker is and go to great lengths to seek justice.  Readers who enjoyed Erdrich’s other family sagas such as Love Medicine will recognize many of the names (Mooshum, Nanapush) that crop up time and again.  This book is filled with the quiet grace and heart-breaking complexity of Erdrich’s other novels and paints a truthful portrait of a family who struggles to survive the emotional aftermath of a horrific crime.