the next good book


By Louise Erdrich


372 pages

What’s it about? This novel takes place in 1999, near tribal lands in North Dakota.  Landreaux Irons goes hunting one morning and takes aim at a deer.  As he squeezes the trigger, the deer bolts and he sees a blur.  It does not take long to realize he has shot his best friend Peter’s son by accident.   Landreaux and his wife turn to tradition, and the sweat lodge in their grief.  They come to the decision in the lodge to follow an ancient custom and give their son LaRose to Peter and his wife Nola.  “Our son will be your son now” they tell him. What did it make me think about? What a starting point to talk about family, grief, and forgiveness- all set in a current Native American culture that I know little about. Should I read it? So I had high expectations.  “The Round House” (Louise Erdrich’s last book) won the National Book Award and was one of my favorite books of the last few years.  Ms. Erdrich’s  writing and keen observations never disappoint, but at times this novel felt like work to me.  I am so glad to have read it, but I must say that it was slow at times.  Ms. Erdrich writes about difficult topics with such precision and grace that it would be a shame to miss one of her stories- even if it takes some discipline to keep on reading. Quote- “From there, he can see down the hill into the marrow of the reservation town.  High and mentally blasted as he is, he sees into each heart.  Pain is dotted all around, glowing from the deep chest wells of his people.”

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