The Round House.

Author:Erdrich, Louise
Position:Book review

By Louise Erdrich



The Round House is the second in a projected trilogy that started with the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves (**** SELECTION July/Aug 2008). See our profile of Louise Erdrich on page 22.

THE STORY: One day in the spring of 1988, on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, 13-year-old Joe Coutts, a happy, good-natured kid obsessed with Star Trek and women's breasts, wonders where his mother is. He and his father Bazil, a tribal judge, soon find Geraldine sitting in her car, covered in blood, and later learn that she was beaten, raped, and nearly set afire near "the round house," a sacred place of worship. But Geraldine, a tribal enrollment specialist, falls into a deep depression and won't name her attacker. Bazil then understands that the location of the crime renders its jurisdiction--and hence its resolution--ambiguous. Out of sheer helplessness, Joe determines to seek justice and save his mother. Years later, as an adult looking back at his youth, he recalls these events and the quest that thrust him into a racist, dangerous adult world he didn't yet understand.

Harper. 336 pages. $27.99. ISBN: 9780062065247

Kansas City Star *****

"Louise Erdrich's brilliant new novel, The Round House, is raunchy, deadly serious and darkly funny. Then, finally, it is just dark, period. Erdrich is not one to shrink from harsh truths." JEFFREY ANN GOUDIE

San Francisco Chronicle *****

"The book's title refers to the Ojibwe holy place where Geraldine was attacked--and it is the moment Joe first visits the round house, searching for clues to the crime, that the novel morphs from a family drama into a genuine thriller. ... The novel expertly weaves past and present, allowing Joe to control some of the most crucial scenes with years of reflection under his belt, while still giving us the tunnel-vision immediacy that only a teenager enveloped in those terrifying circumstances could experience." MOLLY ANTOPOL

Miami Herald ****

"The Round House will inevitably draw comparisons to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, but Joe is no Scout Finch-like observer. He's an older, more involved participant, shaped by his culture and influenced by ideas of justice from the warriors of Ojibwe legend--or, let's be honest, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard." CONNIE OGLE

NY Times Book Review ****

"In Erdrich's hands, you may find yourself, as I did, embracing the prospect of vigilante justice as regrettable but...

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