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The Round House (2012)

by Louise Erdrich

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Justice Trilogy (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,4612132,979 (4)1 / 533
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.
Recently added byprivate library, JoeB1934, kristiederuiter, deehollandvogt, tonimeter, dperry
Legacy LibrariesCian O hAnnrachainn
  1. 60
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (JenMDB)
  2. 40
    Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (sweetiegherkin)
    sweetiegherkin: Both books deal with a huge family crisis (the rape of the mother in The Round House, the trial of the mother in Midwives) and are told from the point of view of the family's 12- to 14-year-old only child, interspersing the tragic with the everyday life of a preteen/teen; both books also have unexpected endings.… (more)
  3. 51
    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. 30
    The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (Limelite, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    Limelite: Not exactly a prequel, but featuring several of the same characters that appear in this more recent novel.
    BookshelfMonstrosity: If you want to read more about the characters and events portrayed in The Round House, read The Plague of Doves, which shares characters and events with the later novel.
  5. 10
    Waylaid by Ed Lin (Othemts)
  6. 10
    Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (Iudita)
  7. 00
    We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (ainsleytewce)
  8. 00
    Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich (JenMDB)
  9. 00
    The Little Friend by Donna Tartt (ainsleytewce)
  10. 12
    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.

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» See also 533 mentions

English (206)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (1)  All languages (211)
Showing 1-5 of 206 (next | show all)
I read Louise Erdrich's "Love Medicine" -- her first novel -- and while I found certain scenes beautiful and memorable and thought that the writing was top drawer, I also found the whole thing so oppressively sad that I didn't think I'd read Erdrich ever again. Still, thanks to an itchy Kindle finger, I became the owner of a copy of "The Round House." I'm glad that I did.

There are parts of "The Round House" that are sad, terrifying, and flat-out heartbreaking, but they're weaved into a larger story that focuses on friendship, family, love, and resilience. It is, in a way, a deeply nostalgic novel, both for a way of life particular to the novel's setting (the nineteen eighties, an Ojibwa reservation in Minnesota) and for the intense thrills and gigantic emotions that come with early adolescence. Joe, our young main character, hasn't seen much of the world, but his observations and understanding of the way that the reservation he lives on works are fascinating and, as often as not, genuinely funny. Although he's an only child, he's seldom alone: this book is as much about him as it is about his large extended family and social circle, and the genuine love and affection that exists between them. Readers' comparisons to "To Kill a Mockingbird" are not out of place. the reader gets to see Joe, our main character, try to negotiate both typical teenage dilemmas and more human evil than one person should have to witness in his lifetime. Erdrich's prose is still a pleasure to read: it has an easy, natural flow that marks her as a true storyteller. What really shocked me, though, was this book's gritty optimism, its description of people in tough situations committed to making the best choices they're capable of. I'm glad that this one forced my to reconsider how I feel about this author. Now to check out some of Erdrich's other books. ( )
1 vote TheAmpersand | Dec 31, 2021 |
Oh how i love Louise Erdrich. Absolutely one of my very authors. One of the things that I enjoy is the threads of characters / families that run in and out and around in her novels. Having read many (but not all - YET) of her novels, I find myself intrigued by the "community" of characters. I also really love the retelling of native legends and stories. I've not read any reviews or comments here, but I'd guess that one reason reader might not like this book is due to acts committed by the main character. I find the story arc completely plausible, others may not.

The edition that I read has an interview with Erdrich in the back. She comments on young teenage boys and the tender age they are at...not a child, but not an adult and how much they love their mothers. As the mother of a young boy (5 when I read this), I found her comments very insightful.
  Grace.Van.Moer | Dec 1, 2021 |
After listening to Tommy Orange read the short story by Erdrich via The New Yorker podcast, The Years of My Birth, I couldn't wait to read the full novel that evolved out of it. It has been a very long time since I'd read Erdrich and was glad to be reintroduced - this book was amazing. ( )
  viviennestrauss | Sep 23, 2021 |
At the beginning of The Round House, Joe, a 13-year old Ojibwe youth, is working in the yard with his father and waiting for his mother to return from the tribal offices where she has gone to retrieve a file. When she reaches home, she has been hurt and (no spoiler here) it turns out she has been raped. she retreats into herself and Joe and his father (who is a tribal judge) believe it has something to do with one of the cases he has judged.

In the course of learning how Joe and his friends set out to unravel who was responsible, the author includes so much more. It's part coming-of-age and the mysterious ways and thoughts of 13-year old boys (including their obsession with girls and sex). There's also some history of the Native Americans and white treaties and how unfairly Native Americans were treated and how much was lost when they were forced onto reservations. And there's information on how difficult it is to get justice as the rules change depending on where the crime takes place and by whom. In book club yesterday, we also discussed how seldom you read about a stable marriage in books these days and how devoted Joe's parents were to each other.

I haven't read much by this author but have a few more of her books on my TBR and hope to get to them soon. There's just something about how she writes... ( )
  dudes22 | Sep 2, 2021 |
A mediocre Louise Erdrich novel is still a great read. I listened to this as an audio book, and as so often happens, I felt I would have enjoyed it more had I read it in hard copy. The narrator was not the most fluid of readers. I also found the denouement somewhat clouded, shall we say, or rather, overshadowed and unfocused, by the actual ending. But certain characters were so vivid and well drawn that I’m sure they will be with me for a while. And as always, Erdrich conveys Ojibwe culture with depth and nuance. ( )
  Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 206 (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.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erdrich, Louiseprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mantovani, VincenzoAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Small trees had attacked my parents' home at the foundation.
"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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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.

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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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