Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Round House

Title:  The Round House
Author:  Louise Erdrich
Publication Information:  HarperCollins. 2012. 318 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book because the title and the description sounded intriguing.

Favorite Quote:  "Tears started into my eyes. I let them flood down my cheeks. Nobody was there to see me so I did not even wipe them away. I stood there in the shadowed doorway thinking with my tears. Yes, tears can be thoughts, why not?"

The Round House is set on a North Dakota reservation. It is the story of a boy, a family, a community, and a culture. The book begins as Geraldine Coutts is attacked. The story is about the impact on her and her family, particularly her thirteen year old son Joe. Ultimately, the story is about a search for justice.

The book starts with a sad and disturbing event and proceeds to a sad and disturbing conclusion. Everything in between is - you guessed it - sad and disturbing. That, in and of itself, is not my concern with the book. Many sad stories are very powerful ones. What concerns me most is the perspective from which the story is told. The story is written as a first person narrative through Joe's eyes. Joe is a thirteen year old boy. I don't understand why.

This story puts the child in the middle of an adult world he is not ready to deal with. Again, that in and of itself is not my concern. However, putting a child in the position of the narrator puts a child's perspective on the situation. It hints at the adult emotions and turmoil but does not fully reflect them. As such, I feel as if part of the anguish and reality of this story is actually missing. We see Geraldine's pain through Joe's eyes.

This book brings to light the difficulty in prosecuting rape cases on reservations. I was not aware of this issue until reading this book. I do hope the book can lead to some positive changes.

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