The Round House

By Louise Erdrich

The Short Take:

Of course, it’s a National Book Award Winner, so expectations are high. Erdrich does not disappoint. This tale of a Native American teen’s response to his mother’s brutal rape grabs you in its teeth and refuses to let go. This tale of revenge and the price it carries well deserves its accolades.


This novel that celebrates deep friendships and family loyalties also explores the crippling pain certain actions can cause. Whether it is denying a malformed infant, enjoying an illicit love, or having a thirst for revenge — there is a price to be paid, and it’s not always the one you would expect.

Beyond all that, Erdrich’s nuanced portrait of life on the “rez” is compelling and — for people as removed as I am — eye opening. By weaving the complex legal issues that Native Americans face into the plot, she exposes some of the myriad problems they face. There is also a shining thread of spirituality running throughout the book, whether espoused by the ex-Marine priest or Joe’s visionary grandfather.

It’s a rich tale, indeed.

A Little Plot:

When Joe’s mother is beaten and raped it changes his world. Until then, he’d led a relatively middle class life on the Ojibwe reservation. Now his mother hides in her bed and because she is not sure exactly where the rape took place, jurisdictions for investigating, charging, and trying the rapist are confused.

It looks like nothing can be done, even though everyone wants to do something.

Erdrich seems not to have her own webpage, but you can learn more about her at Wikipedia by clicking here.

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