Published September 2013 by Harper Perennial
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours
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 because 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, 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.
Six months ago I listened to Erdrich's The Plague of Doves and was underwhelmed. Still I didn't hesitate when The Round House was offered to me for review, strictly on her name alone. I knew I wanted to give Erdrich another chance; she just had too good a reputation for me not to try her writing again.
Here's where I make a confession for which I think I'll be forgiven on account of the gushing I'll be doing. I gave myself only two days to read this book. Not on purpose; the date for this review just kind of snuck up on me. That's doable with a book of just over 300 pages if I really clear the decks and that's just what I was prepared to do. Until I started reading The Round House. This is a book that begs to be read slowly. Hence, I have not yet finished it.
The Round House grabbed me from the beginning in part of a compelling story, in part because I was delighted to find some of my favorite characters from The Plague of Doves reappearing here, and in part because Erdrich's wonderful writing.
"Women don't realize how much store men set on the regularity of their habits. We absorb their comings and goings into our bodies, their rhythms into our bones. 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 our evening."the full tour.
Louise Erdrich is the author of fourteen novels, volumes of poetry, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood. She lives in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.