Monday, October 29, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: “The Round House” by Louise Erdrich

The Round HouseThe Round House Louise Erdrich
Published: October 2, 2012
ISBN-10: 0062065246
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Highly Recommended

From 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.

Thoughts on Content: (5.0 / 5.0): The Round House  is both a simple and a complicated story. The crime is central to the story and Erdrich does not distract from that.  However, there is a web of cultural influences that surround this crime and they are masterfully woven and told through the eyes of a very realistic 13 year old boy.  Erdrich mixes the ancient native beliefs with the modern beliefs and contrasts the native lives to the white lives in a very striking way.

Thoughts on Style (5.0 / 5.0): I’ve always admired Louise Erdrich’s writing.  She is a masterful character writer, and I prefer character-driven books.  The main characters in this book are completely believable and all have their own story.  I especially related to Joe, the main character.  Not only does he have to deal with the repercussions of the attack on his mother, but he also needs to wade through the complexities of reservation life and deal with adolescence. 

My Thoughts (4.5 / 5.0): 
This book really drew me in from the beginning.  I have read a number of Erdrich’s other books, with mixed results.  Some are fabulous, some just don’t work for me.  The Round House definitely worked for me.  One thing that was especially effective for me was that Joe is about the same age I am and, when there would be pop culture references, they brought me back to myself at that age.

I will admit that two of my pet peeves did show up in this book.  I don’t think I could call either of these things “flaws,” but they did disrupt the book a bit for me.  The first is that there are a lot of characters in this book.  I do think that this is an accurate reflection of reservation life, but I found it hard to keep up with everyone.

Secondly, Erdrich does something stylistically that I can’t fault, but I don’t prefer.  When she writes dialogue—and there is quite a bit of dialogue in this book—she doesn’t use quotation marks.  Again, while there is nothing wrong with this, I think it makes it harder to read.

Both of those issues are very nit-picky on my part and, if I look past those, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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Need a second opinion? Check out some of the other stops on this blog tour (links go to the blog, not the specific review):

Tour Dates

Monday, October 22nd: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, October 24th: Oh! Paper Pages
Tuesday, October 30th: The Betty and Boo Chronicles
Thursday, November 1st: The Feminist Texican [Reads]
Tuesday, November 6th: Conceptual Reception
Wednesday, November 7th: Sweet Tidbits
Thursday, November 8th: Olduvai Reads
Tuesday, November 13th: In the Next Room
Monday, November 26th: Lisa’s Yarns
Tuesday, December 4th: Book Dilettante
Wednesday, December 5th: Books, Thoughts and a Few Adventures
Thursday, December 6th: Veronica MD
Tuesday, December 11th: Book Chatter
Wednesday, December 12th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, December 13th: Broken Teepee
Friday, December 14th: Seaside Book Corner
Monday, December 17th: World’s Strongest Librarian

This review is part of a blog tour by TLC Book Tours. I received a copy of the book to read and review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are mine, and mine alone.

AFFILIATE LINK: Buy this book at Amazon.


  1. I have to get my hands on a copy of this! I keep hearing such good things :)

  2. Sometimes our pet peeves can really disrupt our enjoyment of a book so I'm really happy that didn't happen for you in this book! With all your high rating it looks like it was an amazing read.

    Thanks for being on the tour.