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Love Medicine
Louise Erdrich
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Love Medicine

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  15,330 Ratings  ·  1,003 Reviews
Set on and around a North Dakota reservation, ‘Love Medicine’ tells the story of the Lamartines and the Kashpaws – two extraordinary families whose fates are united and sustained in a harsh world by the strength and diversity of their love.

We meet the sensual Lulu Lamartine, whose children have different fathers, but whose passionate tie to her first love, Nector Kashpaw,
Paperback, 272 pages
Published 1993 by HarperPerennial (first published 1984)
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Sometimes the books I enjoy most are the ones I have the least to say about. And what can I add to Toni Morrison's comment that "the beauty of Love Medicine saves us from being completely devastated by its power"? Because reading this book is living, in sweetness and beauty and love, even when it tells terrible things.

It's life and there are as may ways of looking at it as there are minds to see, but in so far as these folks have been and still are fighting for survival, not just of the individu
Her clothes were filled with safety pins and hidden tears

Last week I sat on the steps of a downtown pier, stalled in the summer sun, reading my 1989 paperback edition of Love Medicine. With its Washington Husky-purple cover and title blaring in giant Brittanic Bold white font, the book must have appeared to the uninitiated like a pulp romance. Little did they know it was one of the most significant works of American fiction published in the 1980s, by an author who has become a national literary
Mar 28, 2008 Kirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Erdrich's first and still best-known work (because it's the one most often taught) has become something of a model for the contemporary short-story cycle, with interconnected stories devoted to a variety of interrelated characters spanning three (almost four) generations. The strength here is less in story (which centers on a love triangle and its effect on family ties) or character (vivid as they may be, they're still devoted women and unreliable men) than in style. I wouldn't call it lyrical b ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Aug 30, 2014 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: idle-no-more
This is the short story collection (some call it a novel) that launches the community of characters Erdrich will revisit through another five (six?) books - a form that seems entirely her own. As she says in this "newly revised" edition: "Since writing Love Medicine, I have understood that I am writing one long book in which the main chapters are also books titled Tracks, Four Souls, The Bingo Palace, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse and The Painted Drum."

One of the things I lo
Nov 28, 2012 Lanea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The novel is set largely on a Chippewa reservation in North Dakota, with brief forays to the Twin Cities. There is a family tree at the beginning of the book--refer to it as you read. This is essentially the story of two linked multi-generational families. The speaker shifts from chapter to chapter, as does the point in the time-line. Now we have the voice of a young student going home to visit her grandparents and worrying about her cousin, now the voice of that grandmother still a young woman, ...more
"Love Medicine" is a multigenerational novel about two interrelated families living on a North Dakota reservation from the 1930s to the 1980s. It's written as a series of 18 interlocked stories that often tell about the same situation from a second character's point of view. Native American myths and tricksters color the stories. The author uses wonderful imagery involving water, fire, bridges, and religion. The characters are very conflicted, hanging on to old traditions while living in a moder ...more
Jul 27, 2007 T G rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-my-library
If you find yourself back in the 1990s and in a college course called "Native American women authors," you should definitely read this book. All other people, including time-travelers, should skip it.
Mar 29, 2016 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable report from Chippewa country. I finally get Erdrich in a way that The Round House, with all of its successes, failed to grab me. I have read from many Erdrich fans how she's an author whose books they read over and over; I am not a big re-reader, even of my favorite books—I re-read passages and lines, and a cherished favorite once in a blue moon, but there's so little time and too many books—but while reading this, I understood her fans' (and I can now count myself as one of them) i ...more
Victor Carson
I have now read six of Louise Erdrich’s novels, including her most recent book The Round House. This novel, Love Medicine was the author’s first major novel, released in 1984. Ironically, the novel might be confusing for readers who have not read some of the more recent books, since Love Medicine introduces many characters, each of whom has such a complicated relationship to the other characters that the author provides a full-page chart of the interlocking family trees. The narrative then trace ...more
Feb 15, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book actually earns six stars for the passage near the end about being "in love with the whole world and all that lived in its rainy arms."

I read this book because I remember that my grandmother loved it and I'm trying to read all of her favorite books. What if you could read all the same books that someone else read in their lifetime, in the same order, at the same age?
Tattered Cover Book Store
Dec 01, 2008 Tattered Cover Book Store added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tattered Cover by: Rob B.
Shelves: staff-recommends
Rob says:

If you haven't treated yourself to the storytelling of Louise Erdrich, this is a great place to start. Her characters are beautiful, tragic, fun and flawed. Sometimes all in the same person! Her subsequent works develop many of the people introduced in Love Medicine. Lots of great reading to be had!
Aug 20, 2007 Luisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: novel & short story enthusiasts
To write a novel, start with a good short story. Then, write another. Then, another. Recycle your characters, put them all together, and you have a novel.
Yes, I'm being glib. Actually, I'm a big fan of Louise Erdrich's work. She transitioned from poetry to short stories into novels, and while the transition was not seamless, it was, and still is, a journey and a growth the reader can experience with her. Her early novels do read like short story collections with the imagistic intesity of poetr
Jan 25, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read "Love Medicine" as an anthologized short story twice before I finally picked up the entire book. "Love Medicine" is one of the three most moving short stories I've ever read. Lipsha Morrissey's voice, his eye on the world, his confidence in his gift to heal, and . . . well, this implies the wrong metaphor, but his faith in the midst of suffering, his longing to connect to his own history despite its knotted-ness makes him a vivid and resonant character. Don't we all have screwed up famili ...more
Jul 12, 2007 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I had yet read Karen Manuelito’s examination of the intersection of interests between indigenous “womanisms,” highlighting particularly the commonalities between the experiences of African American and American Indian women, I noted the similarities between the emphases on female experience in Morrison’s Beloved and Erdrich’s Love Medicine. It’s not by accident that Morrison’s is one of the strongest voices in the chorus of praise on the back cover of the novel, noting that “(t)he beauty ...more
Feb 16, 2009 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love Medicine is a novel set in and around an Ojibwe reservation in South Dakota. It consists of a number of vignettes and stories about various members of two families on the reservation, the Kashpaws and the Nanapush/Lamartines, whose lives are interwoven in various ways. It is remarkably well written, particularly considering that this was Erdrich's first novel. She writes a number of different characters, with very distinct voices, each sounding distinct and authentic. And the writing is bea ...more
Nov 29, 2010 Kari rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book title off a lifetime reading list. I'm wishing I hadn't read it in my lifetime. Besides dropping the "F-Bomb" throughout the book, the story was pretty much a depressing chronicle of being drunk or sleeping with anyone but your spouse. (Thank goodness the descriptions were not explicit.) Plus, it is told from numerous points of view, not necessarily in chronological order. I found it confusing, and actually kind of taxing to remember who was who and how they related. The other pr ...more
This a yearning tapestry novel. The various stories, or chapters, focus on different characters and often deal with overlapping events told from different points of view. like the title suggests, if you let this book and its fascinating characters into your heart, you'll find yourself healed in some way.
If you read this book keep in mind a couple of things while you're moving from paragraph to paragraph and page to page: how often colors are mentioned and in what context as well who they're ass
Ruby Hollyberry
One of THE best books I've ever read, from one of my top ten authors. No one can write like Louise Erdrich. Poetry becomes pointless beside prose this good. The book (and the series it is the cornerstone of) are a web of narratives, all from the same tribal reservation, the characters all relatives in some degree. They love, hate, fight, mate, and bring each other beyond sorrow into survival in ways that could never be predicted. Love Medicine is the center of time's reach here. Tracks and Four ...more
Jul 06, 2010 Jessika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could pinpoint exactly what it is about Louise Erdrich that I love so much. (I suppose you'll just have to take my word for it, and go check out her writing).

This isn't a novel for people who need a strictly linear storyline. This isn't a novel for people who need an action-packed, page-flipping plot.

This is for people who enjoy character-driven plots, especially those that revolve around particular families and their drama. This is for people who enjoy soaking in the words and the wr
Dec 15, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book felt like walking into a small town and, over the course of years, sitting weekly for a long cup of tea with the oldest matriarch there who tells you, bit by bit, the stories of the people who live there. In that way, it took a while for the pieces to come together in the book. At first, the stories felt slightly disjointed, and I wanted some omniscient narrator to jump out of the book and say, "Listen, this is what's up between these two characters, and this is what happened with that ...more
It took a couple of pages before I liked it, but once I was gripped by the story, it did not let me go until the very last page. Erdrich has a wonderful writing style, it is simple yet poetic. Reading this was an absolute breeze.

There are a lot of characters in this book, and if the family tree in front of the book did not scare you at first (Really, I got Wuthering Heights flashbacks), you will be baffled by the amount of relationships and links these people have with each other. I often had t
Nov 28, 2015 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the best selection Ive read so far from 2015: The Year of Reading Women. I didnt realize it was a novel-I thought that they were merely short stories with intertwining characters, the way García Márquez recycles his. I was mistaken, and discovered it only once I was well into the novel. Because of this, if I were to re-read it, Id do so when I had more free time. There are a lot of affairs and intermarrying between the two families, and I honestly found it harder to as time went on to k ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
A reader once said of Erdrich: "she puts her characters through a lot." I can't say strongly enough how much I agree with this statement. The story takes place between the mid-1930s and mid-1980s on an Indian reservation in North Dakota. The characters are two inter-related Native American families who exhibit typical human frailties and emotions. Five stars. I see that others who have read this and other Erdrich novels give it only four stars. It's hard for me to believe this author can produce ...more
May 01, 2015 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Love Medicine, Erdrich weaves together two multi-generational Chippewa family histories. Each member of the family has their say in the family history and tell of abandonment, hopelessness, loss, but also friendship and, as the title suggests, love. In a lot of ways this novel de-mythologizes Native Americans in that many Native American novels portray their life as somewhat utopian--Native Americans as having a mythological reliance upon nature and connection to the land--which in a way dehu ...more
Debra Goodman
Dec 03, 2015 Debra Goodman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love Medicine wasn't the first of Erdrich's books that I read, and in some ways I am glad of that. As a teenager, I think I might have been put off by this accumulation of perspectives, this rush back and forth in time. I first read Medicine in my senior year of college, and then (and now) I was struck most by how full and rich Erdrich's characters are. The Maria Lazarre of St Maria is the domineering Grandma Kashpaw is the obsessively maternal wife of Nector is the passionate and true friend of ...more
Feb 06, 2013 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the 1993 edition of this version, same publisher and page count.

Erdrich uses a series of vignettes that together describe a complex web of family dynamics over several generations, mostly on a reservation in North Dakota. At first it was challenging to keep the family members straight, but the stories are so compelling and realistic that one is drawn in as if visiting a long-ignored relative in her kitchen and getting caught up on the life-changing events a family experiences: the births an
Oct 27, 2009 Courtney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book meanders through the lives of members of an extended North Dakota family. It spans 60 years, chronicling moments from three generations of Chippewa.

The plot's orbit is uneven as it revolves around two centers of gravity: June Morrisey on her own, and Lulu, Marie and Nector bound together. That unevenness is not a weakness; it adds complexity to a book about the ways that love binds together us and pushes us apart.

At the outset of "Love Medicine," June Morrisey is alone, heading home,
Sara Willis
Feb 05, 2008 Sara Willis added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: starbitrary
The rating system is starting to get to me. It is one way that the internet is rearranging values by inventing new value systems that are increasingly circumscribed. I mean, what choice do I have if my reading does not fit into five stars? Maybe it is too good or unreadable or maybe I just don't think lit up stars are an applicable way to express how I felt about it. What if I begin to judge everyone by similar ratings? I am walking down the street thinking "Oh. She is for sure two stars. But he ...more
Gregory Dilcox
Feb 14, 2015 Gregory Dilcox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've spent all day going back and forth on my rating of this book. It is a four and a half star book in my opinion but I had to decide if I was going to go over or under that rating since Goodreads still doesn't do half stars. Ultimately I went with five because I love the structure. A novel of what is more or less personal accounts from a family that mostly interweave is tricky to do, and often leaves things out, or confuses the general timeline for the reader. But that is important in making t ...more
May 07, 2008 K rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maybe-it-s-me
Louise Erdrich is a good writer, and I enjoyed "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse" and "The Master Butchers' Singing Club." However, "Love Medicine" was just too dark and gritty for me. Serious dysfunction and physical abuse, alcoholism, infidelity, poverty, etc. There was a little redemption at the end, but it didn't make up for the depressing feeling I was left with overall.

I picked up "The Beet Queen" at the same sale; we'll see if it's any better but I think I need a break f
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Karen Louise Erdrich is a American author of novels, poetry, and children's books. Her father is German American and mother is half Ojibwe and half French American. She is an enrolled member of the Anishinaabe nation (also known as Chippewa). She is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant Native writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renais ...more
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“Her clothes were filled with safety pins and hidden tears.” 40 likes
“Society is like this card game here, cousin. We got dealt our hand before we were even born, and as we grow we have to play as best as we can.” 38 likes
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