The Round House

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

13-year-old Joe lives on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota in 1988 with his parents, Geraldine and Bazil, surrounded by relatives. Joe, when not in school, is usually riding his bike with Cappy, Angus, and Zack, visiting their various relatives for a meal or drink. They get up to plenty of mischief, but life turns suddenly serious after Joe’s mother is brutally attacked. She doesn’t know exactly where it happened; on tribal, federal, or state land. Bazil is a tribal judge and treats Joe like an adult as they look through his case files for possible suspects. There is plenty of humor, adolescent lust, and adventure, almost enough to balance Geraldine’s depression as she slowly recovers.

I found myself thinking about The Round House when I wasn’t reading it, and found it riveting when I was. I was surprised by the ending, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. A memorable novel, this is a finalist for the National Book Award.


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