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


From Library Staff

June 2017 -

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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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.

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.

Jan 09, 2017

For me it was interesting to learn about some of the traditions of the native North American Indians, which they are following up to now, at least, at a time in question of the book - - 80s of last century. The confusion in the mind of a teenager, who was swept by challenges of adult life, which he decided to solve by himself. At times, the book becomes tedious. But then, again, as if picking up the rhythm after a short sleep.

Dec 10, 2016

The Round House was my first of Louise Erdrich's books and I've since read Plague of Doves and am working on her children's book, The Birchbark House. There is something about her writing that makes me want to continue reading, even when the subject matters revolve around death and murder and racism. They are difficult reads, yet you're compelled to keep reading and feel better for it at the end.

multcolib_susannel Aug 08, 2016

Joe must find out who brutally attacked his mother - even if it means going outside the law.

Jul 30, 2016

Would also recommend "Love Medicine" and "The Plague of Doves" by the same author.

Jul 23, 2016

Starts slow--with weeding, of all things.

Then, once the reader understands the impact of Geraldine's "incident," things heat up in a hurry.

Multiple generations of Ojibwe people are shown, interacting with each other and with non-Native Americans. We are shown, often through the eyes of a 13-year-old boy, the everyday comings and going on the rez.

At times, given the legal issues explored in this book, The Round House is reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird: A precocious kid living with a judge/ lawyer, growing up way too fast in societies with dark sides.

There are some pretty funny scenes in this, especially those involving the Ojibwe seniors.

I didn't love the ending, but I understand why Erdrich wrote it the way she did.

Jul 04, 2016

This is a wonderful book, brilliant in so many ways. It is very funny, with many memorable characters like the old grandmother who feeds everyone or the very cool aunt. It is complex in its portrayal of the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people. It sees the world through the eyes of a 13 year old boy and reveals nothing to the reader beyond his perception and perspective. It subtly contrasts religion and indigenous spirituality. Friends and family are supportive and solid to one another in a culture from which so much can be learned. Storytelling at its very best.

ChelseaJM Mar 31, 2016

I literally laughed and cried. The Round House is a true coming of age story, compelling at every turn. The content is quite difficult, given the topic, but the writing flows and the narrator's voice brings levity. I even recommended it to my dad!

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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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