The Round House by Louise Erdrich

(Click on the picture for photo source.)
“The only thing that God can do, and does all of the time, is to draw good from any evil situation.” 

The very first sentence of this novel, “Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation,” bears a foreboding which is felt almost physically. 
Not much is more sacred than home. Not much is more frightening than having its very foundation eroded. In Louise Erdrich’s novel The Round House, both are almost destroyed when twelve year old Joe’s mother is raped one afternoon at the round house.
The effect of this attack on her life is cataclismic. She retreats into her bedroom and cannot come down. She cannot eat. She cannot talk. She cannot live because of the fear which has robbed her of peace. 
As her son grows up, with wonderful tales of adolescence shared by his friends, he vows to discover who it was that attacked his mother. He vows to make it so that she can live without fear once again. 
Filled with characters who live and breathe off of the page, dialogue which alternately pierces your heart then makes you laugh, and a story line which mesmerizes, this book captures the experience of one Indian family that felt as if it had become part of my own.
I loved it.
(The Round House won the 2012 National Book Award for fiction. Thank you to Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review it.)
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19 thoughts on “The Round House by Louise Erdrich”

  1. Bellezza, I love this post. It makes me eager to read this book (which I have had sitting on my shelf for ages!) and experience the magic of Erdrich's writing. By the by, I love the painting you have selected for your header 🙂

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  2. Well, Nadia, we have both loved this painting by Alexander Dieneke, and I just had to put her in my header. (Again.) She's serious, but clearly enjoying herself, in my opinion.

    Looking forward to your thoughts when you finish The Round House. One of my favorite places in all the world is Lac du Flambeau in Wisconsin, where the Chippewa and Ojibwe tribes can still be found. That's one of the reasons I agreed to read/review this book because I love what I know of their lives so much.

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  3. Thank you for reading it, JuJu. Although the story is violent in many places, Erdrixh manages to include lots of grace. I suppose that is what we find where there is love.

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  4. Shannon, the picture is from the New York Times book review which you can visit if you click on it. I loved how the artist showed the rift in the family so clearly with the red “tide” running through their home. Thanks for visiting me.

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  5. I saw it in the New York Times' book review. I bought a subscription for the 'real' paper to be delivered to my mother every Sunday, and The Round House has been getting a lot of attention. Part of that is that it's just been released in paperback. The better part of it, I suspect, is because it's such an outstanding book. Isn't the image all the more powerful after having read the book.

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  6. This is a fantastic book, Les, so powerfully written. It just compels you to keep going to find out the conclusion both for the family and the 'mystery' of who committed the attack on his mother.

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  7. I think I'm one of the few contrarians on this book. I know it is well loved by most people, but I found the story poorly constructed and slow. I also thought Joe's friends did not have distinct voices and blended together as characters. I think the premise had the potential to be interesting, but it just wasn't told well.

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