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The Round House by Louise Erdrich
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The Round House (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Louise Erdrich

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1,6501264,363 (4)203
Member:brenzi
Title:The Round House
Authors:Louise Erdrich
Info:Harper (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Read in 2012, Your library
Rating:****
Tags:North Dakota, reservation, Native Americans, Ojibwe, rape

Work details

The Round House by Louise Erdrich (2012)

  1. 20
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (JenMDB)
  2. 00
    A Time to Kill by John Grisham (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Less literary and as a legal thriller more focused on the courtroom drama, but Grisham's A Time To Kill focuses on similar problems of racism and unspeakable crimes and the drive for the victim's family to seek revenge.
  3. 00
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Alexie's Absolutely True Diary shows a teenager (a little older than Joe) struggling with the poverty, alcoholism and injustice found on the reservation and the bullying and racism he faces from the outside world. A similar theme of the heartaches of growing up on a reservation in an unjust world - Alexie's work shows more humor, though.… (more)
  4. 00
    Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (Iudita)
  5. 00
    Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich (JenMDB)
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» See also 203 mentions

English (122)  Spanish (3)  All languages (125)
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
a well written book that never quite fully engaged me - i've had trouble getting into Erdrich's books in the past and had never completed one before this one - the characters were fully drawn and the storyline felt full but slow moving - i most appreciated that the author exposed the presence of archaic laws in the u.s. that allowed a rapist to go free because the exact location of the rape was in question - and may have been on the reservation - and he therefore couldn't be prosecuted ( )
  njinthesun | Aug 12, 2014 |
Erdrich spins the story of 13 year old Joe, whose mother is raped. because she is unable to pinpoint the location of the crime, it is difficult to prosecute. Joe eventually takes matters into his own hands. Erdrich does a great job telling Joe's story. The characters are multidimensional and interesting and the plot is believeable. Great read. ( )
  mojomomma | Jul 27, 2014 |
I am a fan of Louise Erdrich in general, and this was good, but I wasn't as drawn into her characters this time. ( )
  Julia.Reeb | Jul 23, 2014 |
I have mixed feeling about The Round House. It is a beautifully written coming of age story that is populated with beautifully drawn, very sympathetic characters. The story itself is compelling and painful. It is set on a Chippewa reservation in South Dakota, and through flashbacks and memories recounts a tangle of stories from the past that inform the novel, but many of these flashbacks and memories felt to me like they detracted from the narrative. Plus you could tell that many of the characters lived in other books so you were only getting part of Louise Erdrich's vision.

The story is about a man named Joe looking back on his boyhood in 1988, beginning with the extremely violent rape of his mother, her almost complete withdrawal from life following it, and his attempts with his father, a tribal judge, to bring about justice. Over the course of the story Joe becomes disillusioned with the smallness of the tribal law his father is limited to judging, and then this smallness takes over and shapes the outcome and response to his mother's rape. It does not have the feel of a mystery or a thriller and the culprit is revealed about halfway through the book, but it does depict Joe's bonding with his friends as they somewhat comically and ineffectually work together to track down the perpetrator of the crime.

All of this said, I'm not sure where my mixed feelings come from, it is just that as much as I enjoyed and appreciated it, I didn't feel myself rushing to go back and read previous Louise Erdrich novels. But I wouldn't rule it out either. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
Joe's mother Geraldine is brutally attacked, leaving him and his father, a judge in Ojibwe tribal court, floundering. His mother draws into herself and cannot speak about the attack or tell them who hurt her. Joe is determined to bring the rapist to justice, and enlists the help of his friends in piecing together the mystery.

Based on that short description, I was fairly certain that I did not want to read this book, and was a little leery of reading it when it was voted onto my library's book discussion list for this year. So I will now go on record as saying not only should I not judge a book by its cover, but I should not judge a book by its blurb. Because the story is so much more than about a woman being raped. It's about a son's relationship with his parents, his friends, and his tribe. It's about tribal law and the complicated mess that it can be to figure out jurisdiction. It's also about justice. The characters - and there are many - came alive for me from Geraldine's sister Clemence trying to care for her elderly, cantankerous father Mooshum; to the sex-obsessed Grandma Ignatia; to the military man turned priest; and many, many more. The people and their relationships are complicated and true. I also was impressed with the way in which reservation life was described and what a fantastic job the author does of presenting people and situations warts-and-all without making sweeping judgments or political commentary. The storyline has many threads and I could easily revisiting this book to get even more out of it. ( )
  bell7 | Jun 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
With “The Round House,” her 14th novel, Louise Erdrich takes us back to the North Dakota Ojibwe reservation that she has conjured and mapped in so many earlier books, and made as indelibly real as Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County or Joyce’s Dublin. This time she focuses on one nuclear family — the 13-year-old Joe Coutts; his mother, Geraldine; and his father, Judge Antone Coutts — that is shattered and remade after a terrible event.

Although its plot suffers from a schematic quality that inhibits Ms. Erdrich’s talent for elliptical storytelling, the novel showcases her extraordinary ability to delineate the ties of love, resentment, need, duty and sympathy that bind families together. “The Round House” — a National Book Award finalist in the fiction category — opens out to become a detective story and a coming-of-age story, a story about how Joe is initiated into the sadnesses and disillusionments of grown-up life and the somber realities of his people’s history.
 
“The Round House” represents something of a departure for Erdrich, whose past novels of Indian life have usually relied on a rotating cast of narrators, a kind of storytelling chorus. Here, though, Joe is the only narrator, and the urgency of his account gives the action the momentum and tight focus of a crime novel, which, in a sense, it is. But for Erdrich, “The Round House” is also a return to form.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Maria Russo (Oct 12, 2012)
 
Each new Erdrich novel adds new layers of pathos and comedy, earthiness and spiritual questing, to her priceless multigenerational drama. “The Round House’’ is one of her best — concentrated, suspenseful, and morally profound.
 
Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, is always in pursuit of great new books. And today, Louise Erdrich's latest "The Round House." I interviewed her earlier this week about the novel. Now, here's Alan's take and he says it's her best yet.
 
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Small trees had attacked my parents' home at the foundation.
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"Women don't realize how much store men set on the regularity of their habits," Joe says. "Our pulse is set to theirs, and as always on a weekend afternoon we were waiting for my mother to start us ticking away on the evening."
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Book description
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning. Written with undeniable urgency, and illuminating the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together, The Round House is a brilliant and entertaining novel, a masterpiece of literary fiction. Louise Erdrich embraces tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of her all-too-human characters, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today. Amazon description.
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When his mother, a tribal enrollment specialist living on a reservation in North Dakota, slips into an abyss of depression after being brutally attacked, 14-year-old Joe Coutz sets out with his three friends to find the person that destroyed his family.… (more)

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