The Round House

The Round House

Book - 2012
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The Round House won the National Book Award for fiction.

One of the most revered novelists of our time--a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life--Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.

Riveting and suspenseful, arguably the most accessible novel to date from the creator of Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, and The Bingo Palace, Erdrich's The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction--at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.

Publisher: New York : Harper, c2012.
ISBN: 9780062065247
Branch Call Number: ERDRICH
Characteristics: 321 pages ; 24 cm


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As a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, a lot of Erdrich's work is centered around a semi-fictitious reservation and the generations of families who live there. In her book The Round House, she tells a bleak story about rape and trauma while delicately unraveling intricacies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal law. (more)

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Highly recommended!
digital audiobk available via Erdrich is an enrolled member of the Anishinaabe Nation (also known as Chippewa). This is primarily a story of strong Ojibwa women with peripheral mystery focus. * Note: Although not graphically depicted, a rape is an eleme... Read More »

2020 Read Across Lawrence selection. Erdrich earned the National Book Award for this gripping and accessible story of strong Ojibwa women.

After his tribal specialist mother is brutally attacked, fourteen-year-old Joe Coutz sets off with his three friends to find out who is responsible.

From the critics

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Jun 25, 2020

I was not disappointed in the ending of this fine book--instead, the last pages swiftly knit the strands and themes together tightly.

Jun 15, 2020

Very intense story, with raw emotions and delicate topics. Was disappointed with the ending though.

Mar 17, 2020

Another incredibly powerful novel by Louise Erdrich. I thought I knew where the story was going but I was pleasantly surprised by the time I finished. Erdrich crafts immensely difficult subject matter into a story which I was compelled to read - I believe this is because of her gift in story-telling. She weaves characters together, whether it is trauma or ordinary coming-of-age situations, with such skill that the reader welcomes each one with open arms and hearts. I absolutely loved this book!

Oct 19, 2019

Great writer. Consistently an author I like to read.

Oct 10, 2019

There was a point in this book when I finished a page and felt like my eyes had been opened. I think my awakening coincided with an expansion of Joe's (main character) awareness of his circumstanses and the history of his people. Previous to this point Erdich describes life on the reservation, a place of limited opportunities compared to the outside world, which is exposed through the media of television and movies. After the point where I awoke the author began speaking in a more poetic manner, connecting age old stories with the current conditions and Joe's understanding of the world. I felt disappointed at the end, not with any fault of the author, but with the reality of the life that Joe was walking into.

Jul 04, 2019

While I feel like this covered a very delicate topic and included a lot of relevant information I found this read to be a bit slow. It took me a while to get through this book unfortunately and I didn't find it as riveting as I had hoped. Overall I applaud the author for the topic of choice but feel the story could have been told better.

Jan 29, 2019

One of my all-time favorite novels. I am "in the tank" for Louise Erdrich.

Aug 11, 2018

Beautiful writing. Just beautiful.

DBRL_IdaF Jul 13, 2017

What happens when a heinous crime is committed but a matter of geography means nobody has the authority to prosecute? Joe Coutts is 13 years old, a resident of the North Dakota Ojibwe Reservation. His father is a judge and his mother is the tribal enrollment officer.

When his mother is beaten and raped, the family must deal with their own emotions and relationships, and also a legal system that is full of holes when it comes to protecting Native Americans.

There are some raw emotions in this powerfully told story. The characters are real and layered. Erdrich does not go for an easy feel-good resolution. Though political issues help drive the plot, it's not preachy.

TSCPL_Librarian_Deb Jun 12, 2017

After reading this novel I knew more about and I cared more about the injustice that Native Americans face every day. That speaks volumes to the power of Erdich's storytelling, as she uses the voice of a 13 year old boy to draw the reader into a story where a powerful white man commits a sordid crime against a Native American woman. The woman Geraldine, the 13 year old boy is Joe and his world is shattered when his vibrant mother is suddenly transformed into a shell of what she once was by a violent attack. Joe's father is a tribal judge, so you would expect he would know how to make sure that his wife's attacker is captured and prosecuted. However the location of the attack is unclear and the laws regarding who governs reservation land render Joe's dad and Joe's community powerless. In between moments of normal teenage fun with his friends and learning about Native American ways from his elders, Joe gradually learns more and more about what happened to his mother and how powerless his family is to stop her attacker. He then faces an awful choice--should he take the law into his own hands?
This book, though it tackles a grim subject, is also filled with lighthearted moments as Joe and his friends indulge in the normal escapades of youth--such as fooling around with girls and antagonizing the local Catholic priest. The reader also gets to experience life on a reservation through Joe's interactions with his bawdy older female relatives, the stories his ancient great uncle, and the pow wow gatherings he attends. These all mesh together to make for a highly enjoyable and thought provoking read. It was an excellent choice for our book discussion group, as the issues of justice it raised gave us plenty to talk about and we were also able to laugh over some of Joe's adventures.

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siammarino Oct 22, 2014

Joe lives on an Indian reservation in the 60's with his parents and extended family. When his mother is brutally raped by a white man, Joe's life changes forever. Since his father's authority as a judge does not extend to crimes by whites on the reservation, Joe decides to exact revenge himself. This novel was an eye-opener to the plight of Indians. In the afterward, Erdrich says that 1 in 3 Indian women are raped by whites. I enjoyed learning about Indian history and culture. Much of the dialog was amusing.


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mrsgail5756 Mar 27, 2013

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” -George Washington


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