The Round House by Louise Erdich

In 1988, Joe Coutt’s life is drastically altered by the rape of his mother, Geraldine. The incident generates fear and concern throughout the reservation, and Geraldine finds it increasingly difficult to cope with the world outside of her bedroom. When the ongoing police investigation fails to yield concrete results, thirteen-year-old Joe and his friends decide to take matters into their own hands. Joe just wants his mother back, but his efforts to restore her innocence cause him to forever lose his own.

Louise Erdich is a natural storyteller, and her mastery of language paired with a simple yet direct style makes this book irresistible from start to finish. Through her colorful cast of characters, we are granted a realistic glimpse of reservation life in the 1980s. From the presence of the convert-seeking Catholic Church to the rich culture of the reservation, Erdich’s prose is beautifully written and her story elegantly told.

One of the most compelling aspects of the novel is the genuine empathy that it generates towards Joe’s situation. We feel for every decision that he is forced to make, and we cheer him on even when we know that his actions will end his childhood.

This is a momentous occasion – for once, I have nothing to offer but praise. Gripping from page one, The Round House is definitely one of the best books of 2012.

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