Winner of the National Book Award • Washington Post Best Book of the Year • A New York Times Notable Book
From one of the most revered novelists of our time, 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.
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface because Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.
While his father, a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.
The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece—at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.
When Geraldine Coutts, a Native American woman living on a North Dakota reservation, is assaulted and raped, she retreats into solitude. Her husband, Antone, a tribal judge, tries in vain to find the culprit while her 13-year-old son Joe begins his own investigation. Actor Gary Farmer turns in a workmanlike performance of Erdrich's literary mystery. He reads in crisp, clear tones though occasionally he enunciates so carefully the narration sounds stilted and slows the pace of the story. Farmer struggles to lend unique voices to the book's characters and this is particularly unfortunate given the rich, varied cast. Farmer provides the bulk of the characters with vocal pacing and verbal idiosyncrasies that don't differ from his narration. And this makes it extremely difficult for listeners to keep track of who is talking to whom and under what circumstances. A Harper hardcover.
So close to perfect
I'm giving this book 4 stars for the believable characters, the story line that makes you feel the potent injustices the Native American people live with, the incredibly beautiful language, and the authentic portrayals of life within a family, a community, and a self-serving government.
However. The ending confuses and frustrates me greatly, as it did to the members of my book club. We all agreed that we liked the book a great deal, but felt cheated by the ending, which almost almost felt as if it belonged to another book.
I still recommend you read it, but you should probably check it out at the library before buying.
Likable characters. Painful situation.
The journey is sometimes humorous, fantastical, sad, awkward...
I can smell the food, feel the earth, see the dusty light.
This story isn't an easy place to be or a few days, but it's somewhere worth going.
The Round House is compelling and moving. I learned so much about the miscarriage of justice our nation has committed against Native Americans, and learned, also, about the culture of the characters. I miss them already, having finished the book, and will find myself thinking about them over the coming weeks.