A mother is brutally raped by a man on their North Dakota reservation where she lives with her husband and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. Traumatized and afraid, she takes to her bed and refuses to talk to anyone - including the police.
While her husband, a tribal judge, endeavours to wrest justice from a situation that defies his keenest efforts, young Joe's world shifts on its child's axis. Confused, and nursing a complicated fury, Joe sets out to find answers that might put his mother's attacker behind bars - and make everything right again. Or so he hopes.
The Round House is a poignant and abundantly humane story of a young boy pitched prematurely into an unjust adult world. It is a story of vivid survival; and tt confirms Louise Erdrich as one of America's most distinctive contemporary novelists.
Erdrich, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, sets her newest (after Shadow Tag) in 1988 in an Ojibwe community in North Dakota; the story pulses with urgency as she probes the moral and legal ramifications of a terrible act of violence. When tribal enrollment expert Geraldine Coutts is viciously attacked, her ordeal is made even more devastating by the legal ambiguities surrounding the location and perpetrator of the assault did the attack occur on tribal, federal, or state land? Is the aggressor white or Indian? As Geraldine becomes enveloped by depression, her husband, Bazil (the tribal judge), and their 13-year-old son, Joe, try desperately to identify her assailant and bring him to justice. The teen quickly grows frustrated with the slow pace of the law, so Joe and three friends take matters into their own hands. But revenge exacts a tragic price, and Joe is jarringly ushered into an adult realm of anguished guilt and ineffable sadness. Through Joe's narration, which is by turns raunchy and emotionally immediate, Erdrich perceptively chronicles the attack's disastrous effect on the family's domestic life, their community, and Joe's own premature introduction to a violent world.