Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Date: October, 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 321
Genre:  Adult fiction, Cultural, Mystery
Rating: 2/5

For me, this one was just ok. It is part mystery and part "coming of age" of a boy living on a reservation. A terrible crime occurred and the boy feels compelled to seek justice. In addition, he is growing up and faces hard truths about First Nations relationships with Caucasians, and how flawed in general the world really is when it comes to justice and other important things.

As for the mystery, there wasn't much to it. It was fairly clear to me who was responsible and the ending was also something I predicted soon in the novel. 

The coming of age aspect was more interesting, but it didn't hit the mark for me. Some of the stuff I could relate to, like the countless dick jokes and jam sandwiches, but I didn't feel like there was anything new to discover. 

There is some spirituality in the book, in terms of First Nations culture, but it was such a tease. Is this because the old ways are being forgotten by the younger generations? The Round House is explained but not much beyond that is looked into. 

This author also chose to not use quotation marks in the writing. It did make the flow more jagged because I kept stopping to consider if something was a thought or something said, which did make a difference. It was hard to immerse myself into the conversations when I was so uptight about the grammar. Here is an example of what I mean:
He was down by the river, Joe said. Just like yesterday.
"He was down by the river," Joe said. Just like yesterday.
Those two phrases could have completely different meanings, and it was annoying trying to figure out what the author intended. In the example, is Joe informing the person that it is a repeat occurrence  or is he secretly keeping that to himself? Motives are important to a reader!

My opinions might be due to my own bias of growing up next to a reservation and having my own life be a blend between "Caucasian life" and "Native life" in terms of home dynamics and the such. My aunt is an elder on the tribal council, for example. If someone has no clue what happens on a reserve, then they would probably enjoy this book. But for me, it was nothing new. It was like reading about the neighbour down the street. It sucks, but that is the way it is. I think a certain type of person would really enjoy this book, but not me. I was looking for something more, something I didn't already know and I didn't find it. Yet, I want to be clear that if you are new to this sort of thing, you may really enjoy the book.

If you want to give this one a try, check out the link below:

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