The Round House

The Round House

by Louise Erdrich

Judy Stanton (07/07/13): Reading Round House has made me an instant Louise Erdich fan. She develops characters you care about, a plot that has twists and turns you can't wait to follow, rich description of the native American culture, all circling around an issue that is all too real -- the difficulty in seeking justice for rape victims on Native American reservations. I don't have sons, but this coming of age story for a young teenage boy was so poignant, with his trying to understand adults... his parents, grandfather, aunts & uncles, neighbors and others involved in the plot. Although not comedic, Erdich made me truly laugh out loud in her telling of personal family experiences. Her characters were very real, having their strengths and their weaknesses. Family bonding and relationships sometimes worked and just as often, broke down.with heartfelt emotion. An engaging read. 4+
Rating: ****+

Gail Reid (01/30/13): The Round House takes place on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota during the late 1980's. Geraldine Coutts, a census taker and wife of a lawyer and tribal judge, is tricked into a meeting where she is brutally attacked and raped. Their only son Joe, now a lawyer, recalls the incidents from the summer when he was 13.

All Joe wants is the mental and emotional return of his mother. Instead, she seeks seclusion at home, eating minimally and barely speaking. Like any 13-year old during summer, he spends time with his pals and his quirky relatives but begins his own investigation into his mother's ordeal.

The book explores themes of justice on multiple levels. Although the rapist is identified fairly early in the novel,the crime occured in the round house where tribal and federal jurisdictions blur. Extreme frustration and anguish take over as it appears that the culprit will not be punished.

Erdrich's characters are well developed and very unique, incorporating the rich cultural heritage of Native Americans in the Dakotas. Interspersed in the narrative are Ojibwe tales and legends that help to clarify the mindset of the people. While The Round House was a good read, I did not think it was as well done as The Plague of Doves or The Master Butcher's Singing Club, which are among my favorites.
Rating: ***

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