From the website http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Round-House-Louise-Erdrich/?isbn=9780062065247?AA=books_SearchBooks_2905
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.
Louise Erdrich has long on my list of authors to read, but The Round House is the first of her novels I read.
The book description says the characters as “all-too-human.” Erdrich develops the characters in a way that one can identify with nearly all of them in some way. She beautifully captures the emotional depth of the characters and their relationships wtih each other. Joe, the main character, struggles with wanting to remain a free-spirited child while longing to be an adult; his father is trying to help his wife recover from her trauma and find her justice while trying to raise a boy; and his mother grapples with the memories of her trauma and knowing she and her life will never be the same.
Joe’s devotion to his mother and wanting to know, and understand, all the details of what happened is the center of the story. This incident, whether he is fully aware or not, feeds into and marks changes his relationships with his parents, relatives, and friends. He wants to go back to the way things were but knows that is impossible. The setting of 1988 adds many layers to the characters and their relationships. Erdrich interweaves how women and Native Americans are treated and viewed in society, and how those complications affected the characters’ development and the story’s outcome.
The Round Housemakes me want to read more of Erdrich’s books. Her realistic story and characters are easy to read but accurately depicts the complex situation of living on a reservation in a larger society with different rules and perspectives. At its heart, it is a coming of age story of a boy becoming a man and how the world is changing around him.