I started reading The Round House by Louise Erdrich because it topped so many “Best of 2012″ lists. The story is about a young Native American teenager, Joe, who sets out to solve the mystery behind his mother’s brutal attack. I was drawn into the book immediately, but at first I wasn’t sure that it was going to live up to the hype. The story builds very slowly but then barrels toward the ending at lightning speed. I was so engrossed that I finished the book in the wee hours of the morning and had no idea how long I had been reading.
This book is a work of fiction, so I am not entirely sure how historically accurate it is, but I am willing to bet that it is all true. The author’s grandfather was a tribal chairman, both of her parents taught at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and her late husband was the director of Dartmouth College Native American Studies Program. I was (as I always am upon reading these types of historical recollections) horrified at the treatment of the Native Americans at the hands of the “white” men. The book is punctuated with dreams, stories and other tribal traditions that I found almost more interesting than the story itself. Louise Erdrich did a wonderful job illustrating various traditions and costumes, which no doubt came from direct observation.
I may need to take a day off from reading after finishing this one. It is a story that will stick with you throughout the years and I expect I will be thinking about this one for a long time to come.
(Fun fact: The author owns an independent bookstore, Birchmark Books, in Minneapolis!)
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