Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Round House; Louise Erdrich

 
Title:  The Round House
Author:  Louise Erdrich
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Harper
Edition: eGalley
Setting: North Dakota
Source: Edelweiss
Date Completed: October/2012
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommend: yes

Back on October 16th, I posted the opening paragraph of The Round House. Here it is again:
 
"Small trees had attacked my parents' house at the foundation.  They were just seedlings with one or two rigid, healthy leaves.  Nevertheless the stalky shoots had managed to squeeze through knife cracks in the decorative brown shingles covering the cement blocks.  They had grown into the unseen wall and it was difficult to pry them loose.  My father wiped his palm across his forehead and damned their toughness.  I was using a rusted old dandelion fork with a splintered handle; he wielded a long, slim iron fireplace poker that was probably doing more harm than good.  As my father prodded away blindly at the places where he sensed  roots might have penetrated, he was surely making convenient holes in the mortar for next year's seedlings."

 Several of you who commented thought the intro was symbolic of something to come -- and after finishing this terrific story, I can say many of you were correct. The intro was ominous indeed, and set the tone for much of the story that followed.

The Round House  takes the reader back to an Indian reservation in North Dakota in1988. Thirteen year-old Joe Coutts lives with his father, a tribal judge and his mother, a records clerk on the Ojibwe reservation, a job which required her to "know everyone's business".  One Sunday afternoon as Joe and his father were pulling weeds from the garden the mother mother, Geraldine heads out to her office to retrieve a high profile file.  When she doesn't return by the time dinner time approaches, father and son become concerned and prepare to go look for her.  They find her stunned, beaten and bleeding and smelling of gasoline, yet sitting in her car in the driveway of their home.

Who attacked her, and why isn't Geraldine willing to talk about her attack?  Why are things so secretive and why isn't Joe told something about the attack at least?  Of course bit by bit information about the attack, where it happened or who might be responsible is slowly shared behind the scenes, but from the perspective of Joe, the thirteen year old narrator, all he sees is his once happy and active mother holed up in her room, spiraling into a deep depression and afraid to even leave her room. "Her eyes were black pits...." Joe feels helpless and is not sure what he can to to make his mother feel safe again.  Joe has an idea and enlists the help of his buddies, Cappy, Zack and Angus in trying to find out who attacked his mother and plotting what they feel would be appropriate revenge.

Although the theme of this novel is a dark one and one might think it would make for a depressing read, that is not the case.  There is so much to hold the readers interest in this story. From the element of mystery with the attack, the adolescent antics of Joe and his friends as they try to find out about the attacker, and the Indian folklore of ghost and ancient myths shared by the elders made this a page turner. The pacing and the way the author took the edge off what could have been too much tension and a depressing story, ended up anything but, in my opinion.  Although I thought the ending was a bit abrupt, I was more than satisfied by this novel, and plan to continue reading more by this author.

24 comments:

  1. I'm not surprised to see you liked this so much - PW has it on their list of the best books of 2012.

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    1. I noticed all the reviews I've seen thus far were very positive. It is one of those stories that draws you in from page 1.

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  2. I haven't read anything by this author yet but feel like I should. This sounds like the one to start with.

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    1. This is a good one to start with but I've also loved Plague of Doves on audio and a few others by this author as well.

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  3. I loved your thoughts on this one enough to maybe pick it up next year. I've read a few by this author and honestly couldn't get through them. So, your high rating makes me think I should give her another shot!

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    1. This would be a good one to start with IMO, unless you are looking for an audio then I can recommend Plague of Doves -- really good story and reader.

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  4. She is one of my favorite authors. I'll have to look for this one at the library.

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    1. Highly recommended. She hasn't disappointed me yet.

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  5. The author is new to me. Thank you for the post.

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  6. You make this sound very compelling. I may have to try it.

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  7. love, love, love Louise Erdrich!!

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  8. I am looking forward to adding this to my list of TBR books for next year! Thanks for your review!

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  9. It sour sounds like a good one!

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  10. Oh, I am so glad you liked this one! I think this author excels at dark storytelling, and the one book I read from her, Shadow Tag, was very dark, but also really compelling. I will have to look for this one when I can. Very impressive review today!

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  11. I'm adding this to my wish list. PW named it as one of the best books of 2012, too.

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  12. This sounds dark but worth reading--terrific review! I will be adding this book to my TBR list!

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  13. My tour date for this one is December 11th so I haven't gotten to it yet. I see that you liked it though so I am now looking forward to it!

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  14. It sounds like it could be rather creepy! Glad to know that you liked it so much.

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  15. I does sound like a dark read, but very intriguing as well. It's on my wish list.

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  16. I just got this one from the library today! REALLY hoping I can finish it before I have to give it back, but I have a couple of others to get through before I can start it. I am on a mission, though - I am very excited about this one!

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  17. She is from Minnesota and owns a bookstore not too far from the one I work at. She was also the featured speaker at the trade show i worked at last month.
    She is amazing and well loved and super talented. This is on my shelf to read. I've heard such wonderful things.

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  18. I've never read any of Erdrich's books but I've never heard anything but great things about them. Sounds like she's once again crafted a marvelous story.

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  19. I have never read any of this author's work. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I guess now that she has won the national book award her readership will jump way up

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  20. Good read, however what was missing for me was more of a connection with some of the information about the characters.

    Rowena Hailey (Local SEO Indianapolis)

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