Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Round HouseThe Round House by Louise Erdrich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was in a rush to finish this tonight before the National Book Award winner was announced, and I got to the last page right as the ceremony was starting. It ended up winning this year's award, so I'm glad I chose this novel to read over the other two I didn't get to.

In an Ojibwe community, a mother is brutally raped. The novel is told from her son's perspective as their family tries to heal and they attempt to catch who did this horrible thing. Most of it is told in the time of the story, but occasionally the son steps back and sprinkles in details of things that happen in his adult life, such as his marriage and his career. You know his friend doesn't last into his adulthood before you know how or why he dies.

Overall, I feel this novel suffers a bit in its storytelling techniques. The story goes along rapidly, very action focused, until around page 115 where you take a side trip to one person's background story. This happens a few more times, but not often enough for it to flow easily in and out the narrative. They serve a specific purpose to give the son details he needs, but I felt they were a little forced. The novel also reads so easily that it is almost to its detriment. I fear I may not remember it for very long.

There are a lot of surrounding issues - Native American vs. American law, jurisdiction issues, poverty, inequality, etc. The author knows them well. I would like to read more of her books, and plan to next year when I do the Around the USA in 52 Books challenge.

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