Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Author: Louise Erdrich
Publisher: Harper (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: October 2, 2012
I have been wanting to read a novel of Louise Erdrich's for a while, so after her latest, The Round House, won the National Book Award, I decided I'd have to start with this one. Plus there were comparisons to To Kill a Mockingbird and I figured this is a must read.
Unfortunately, while I recognize the merits of this book, as well as the aforementioned comparisons, overall I don't think it was for me. It tells the story of 13-year-old Joe who lives on a reservation in North Dakota with his mother and tribal judge father. Shortly into the book, Joe's mother is physically attacked and raped. She suffers a type of post-traumatic stress reaction in which she retreats into herself. Justice is hard to come by because of the ambiguities or contradictions in the laws governing jurisdiction of the reservation and free land as well as of the people victim to or perpetrator to the crime. While The Round House focuses on this situation and Joe's own desire for seeking justice, it also is a coming of age story about him and his friends.
I typically enjoy coming of age stories, and it might be that I had expected more plot focus on the issue with his mother that left me disappointed with this one. I can't help but feel, though, that the story meandered a little to where I became confused about the focus. I also would have liked more focus on the social justice issue regarding difficulty of prosecuting these types of crimes on reservations. The author provided a little information about it in the afterword, and I would have liked to learn more about this from the reading. I feel like at this point I just know of it being an issue rather than feeling totally informed.
And I very much disliked the ending.
My review seems really negative, but it wasn't a bad or unenjoyable book by any means. I just didn't connect to it for whatever reason. I'm pretty much the only one who seems to have this opinion, though, and it did win the National Book Award, so take that for what it's worth!
(And upon reading this I was still convinced to pick up those other books of the author's that I had been considering!)