Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Everything changed the summer Joe's mom was attacked. He's 13 years old, and in that awkward place between boy and man: hanging out with his friends, always hungry and horny, and making small-time trouble on the North Dakota reservation where they live just to pass the time.

When Joe's mother is beaten bloody and barely escapes a kidnapper, she folds into herself and withdraws from the world. His dad, a tribal judge, struggles to find justice and balance in the aftermath, but to Joe it just seems like nothing's happening. So he and his friends decide to investigate and piece together the clues for themselves.

The book's not a traditional mystery - more a literary thriller. And while there's a crime at the center, it's really a coming-of-age tale about Joe's threshold into adulthood. Since Joe as narrator lets you know from the start that he's telling this tale from a comfortable distance in the future, we know all along some pieces of the puzzle and a bit of foresight. But in the end, that won't prepare you for Joe's summer of big changes.

This was an amazing book, and was one of the "alternates" our book club pondered but did not choose for the regular discussion schedule. Too bad, too - because there's lot to discuss here!

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