Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The year is 1988, and Joe Coutts and his buddies are doing what most 13 year old boys do during summer vacation.  They hang out together talking about girls and sports, they go swimming, they help their relatives and they watch the adults around them, curious about what adults do and what might be expected of them in a few short years.  Joe's father is a tribal judge on the reservation, and his mother work is validating the claims of Indian background that are presented.

One Sunday afternoon, everything changes.  Joe's mother goes to her office to retrieve a file and doesn't come home when expected.  When she manages to get home, it is obvious that she has been beaten and raped.  Joe's world falls apart.  His father, who Joe had admired, he now sees as weak, unable to protect his mother or wreak revenge on her attacker.  His mother goes from the warm, loving fount of his security to a woman holed up in bedroom, not speaking for days on end. 

As the days go by, it becomes clear to everyone around who committed this heinous act.  But due to confusion about whether the rape occurred on Indian land, state land or federal land, the jurisdiction is unclear and the criminal is not arrested.  Now Joe's family must deal with the fact that the man still walks among them, and that they might see him any day, any time they go out in public.  Joe feels impelled to correct the situation, and as the summer draws to a close, his childhood also flees and he joins the world of men, where actions are final and change one forever.

Louise Erdrich has written a compelling novel that outlines the issues still facing the Native Americans.  Small details catch at the reader's attention, such as the joy that is felt when a real grocery store opens and Native Americans can go grocery shopping like any other American.  This book won the National Book Award for fiction.  Readers will be caught up in Joe's life and his struggle to understand adult life and whether it means something different if you are a Native American.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction, and those interested in understanding more about the Native American culture.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Any time I read a book dealing with modern day Native American issues it breaks my heart. Sounds like this book would multiply that feeling enormously.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.