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Literary Friday: The Round House

Friday, November 15, 2013

This week I read The Round House by Loiuse Erdrich.  This is the second book of hers I've read: I've also read The Plague of Doves, and The Round House is a sequel of sorts, yet it's a stand alone novel, too.  I read it for my church's book club, and I can't wait to discuss it today!  *squee*

The Round House is a coming of age story, and it's also a mystery/thriller. The purpose of the book is to bring awareness of the rape statistics reported by Amnesty International in 2009.  According to the report, 1 in 3 Native American women will be raped in her lifetime, and 86% of rapes and sexual assaults upon Native women are perpetrated by non-Native men. Erdrich shares this information with her readers in her Afterword, and the statistics are shocking, heartbreaking, and sickening.

Thirteen year old Joe Coutts' life is forever transformed on a spring day in 1988.  His mother Geraldine receives an urgent telephone call that sends her on an errand to the tribal Round House, a sacred place the Ojibwe use for worship.  There she' brutally raped and almost murdered.  The rapist knows how to avoid prosecution, and blatantly brutalizes Geraldine in spite of knowing her husband is a tribal judge.

Instead of enjoying a carefree North Dakotan summer with his three best friends (Angus, Cappy, and Zach) Joe becomes fixated on bringing his old mom back from her deep depression and bringing her attacker to justice. The teens' shenanigans are wittily written in the novel, and these episodes make it a bit more bearable to read.  Told from Joe's point of view, I must applaud Erdrich's ability to fully depict young teenage boys. Her characterizations of the boys are remarkable.  The book's plot does seem to build more slowly, and it was difficult for me to really get into the story until about midway through, and then I couldn't put it down.  Literally I think I read the second half of the book in one sitting!  The Native American lore, details about reservation life and culture, and theme of living with repercussions from revenge make this a must-read.  This book is not for the squeamish, I must warn you.  Also, Erdrich's syntax might drive you crazy because she doesn't use any quotation marks.  This is my one big criticism because I find it distracting.

What's your book club reading this month?

Until next time…

Ricki Jill


  1. This sounds really interesting, especially due to the lore and the culture in it, but man does it sound like it might be a hard read due to the subject!

  2. We are reading Dan Brown -I nferno at bookclub this month. The Roundhouse sounds like a difficult read which I am sure will provoke a good discussion at your bookclub meeting. I am today sharing a Jodi Picoult review which hopefully more of your readers will be able to relate to. Have a good weekend.

  3. I read Tracks for a Native American lit course I took in undergrad. I didn't love it, but I do think I'd love to try another of Erdrich's books. This one sounds powerful.

  4. Great choice! I haven't read this one (but I'd like to now). I did read her "The Birchbark House" for my Kid Lit class in college and she's one of those writers whose voice is infinite. Adult lit or kid lit, she's very talented!

  5. Definitely sounds like a hard read, but interesting. The lack of quotation marks would drive me crazy, too. xo Laura

  6. Sounds very interesting. Definitely going to add it to my list. Now I really want to know what happens.
    So happy you stopped by for a visit.

  7. I haven't been reading this week. Just trying to get back into the groove around here and doing extras around the house. I hope you have a wonderful weekend my friend!

  8. Certainly this book will bring awareness to this cause. I’m sure it’s a hard ready!

    I think of you on “fall saturdays”! RT........

    The French Hutch

  9. Ooo, fantastic review! I won a copy of this book last year. I need to read it!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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