The Round House by Louise Erdrich

roundThis is the first novel by Louise Erdrich that I’ve read and I am sorry I waited so long. I will definitely be going back to pick up her earlier works. In this book, Joe Coutts is 13 years old when his mother, Geraldine, is found bleeding and traumatized by a brutal attack. As a result of the attack, his mother now rarely leaves her bedroom. Joe’s father, a tribal court Judge, seems more interested in helping the tribal police investigate than in helping his son cope. Joe is desperate to do something to bring his family back together. He decides that he will catch the man who did this to his mother.
Joe usually spends his time hanging around the reservation with his three best friends, Cappy, Zack and Angus. Now he convinces his friends to look for clues near the Round House, a sacred site on the reservation. They find evidence missed by the police and Joe shares this information with his father. Unfortunately, his mother cannot remember, and the police cannot determine, exactly where the attack took place. This means they cannot decide who has jurisdiction, the tribal court, the state police, or the FBI. If the crime took place on the reservation, the tribal authorities can only prosecute if it was a member of the tribe. Any white man is beyond their jurisdiction and would have to be prosecuted by the state police. If it was on nearby federal land, the FBI is in charge of the investigation.
As Joe and his friends learn more and more about the limitations of the legal system, they are forced to grow up rapidly. They are thrown into the confusing adult world suddenly and what happens changes their lives forever. This is a moving coming of age novel, combined with a mystery, which gives us a powerful picture of modern life on the reservation.

Find and reserve this book in the catalog.


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