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The Round House

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  58,515 ratings  ·  6,829 reviews
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 323 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by HarperCollins (first published 2012)
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Michelle Ruedin For someone with my agnostic and secular outlook, it's no different than portraying Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, et. al. as real. Which is to say, I…moreFor someone with my agnostic and secular outlook, it's no different than portraying Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, et. al. as real. Which is to say, I like it just fine. People are shaped by their faith and perceive the world as validating their religion whether it appears to do so to non-believers or not. Therefore, it lends credibility to characters to see the world with the conviction of their creed.(less)

Community Reviews

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Will Byrnes
The Round House is a knockout of a book.

Louise Erdrich is one of the true deities in America's literary Olympus. With The Round House she has used her mythic creative powers to give us a book that can be read as a page-turner about a terrible crime, the attempt to identify the criminal and take action, or as a rich, layered look at a culture in a place and time, and a lad coming of age within it, the tale imbued with telling details, a colorful palette of imagery and cultural significance. Or be
Louise Erdrich now has me as a fan, even though I've previously resisted reading her adult novels. There are two reasons for this: 1) As part of my Native American studies curriculum, I tried reading her children's book The Birchbark House to a class of second graders. It bored them to tears so I stopped reading the book aloud to them and abandoned it altogether. 2) Louise Erdrich was married to Michael Dorris, a professor/writer whose claim to Native American heritage was called into question. ...more
There is obviously a lot of erudition about Native American lore, folkways and post-colonization history that went into this book. There is also clearly a lot of love put into the detailed recreation of life on a reservation in the 1980s. And there are also the bones of a classic coming of age story here, along with some memorable characters -- the randy foul-mouthed octagenarian grandparents, the quirky postmistress who was abandoned by her white family and is a rare "adopted in" Native America ...more
A perfect novel to me, with Erdrich at the top of her game. Through several of her past books, she has a great track record in bringing to life a memorable line of characters in the Ojibwe tribe in North Dakota over different epochs of history. Here we get the vibrant portrait of a family on the reservation trying to recover from a brutal rape of the mother in 1988. The story is from the perspective of a 13 year old boy, Joe, with occasional overviews that reveal the fictional narrator is making ...more
Told from the perspective of a 13 year old Indian boy in 1988, it is the story of how the brutal rape of his mother effects his life, the life of his family and his community. A New York Times best seller, many must find this book compelling, however I found the writing tedious and had a hard time finishing.
On two successive nights this week I woke suddenly, yelling out in fright. In my dreams I was moments away from becoming the victim of a horrific assault. Shaken, I turned on the light, shifting uncomfortably in sheets soaked in my sweat, and I reached for The Round House. Louise Erdrich’s profound novel haunted my dreams and moved me to tears and laughter in my waking hours.

Geraldine Coutts, an Ojibwe living on a reservation in North Dakota, doesn’t escape from her nightmare. On a gentle spring
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I was in a rush to finish this tonight before the National Book Award winner was announced, and I got to the last page right as the ceremony was starting. It ended up winning this year's award, so I'm glad I chose this novel to read over the other two I didn't get to.

In an Ojibwe community, a mother is brutally raped. The novel is told from her son's perspective as their family tries to heal and they attempt to catch who did this horrible thing. Most of it is told in the time of the story, but o
Cathy DuPont
Jan 16, 2013 Cathy DuPont rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cathy by: Will Byrnes
With many thanks to my friend, Will Byrnes, I read The Round House and while stingy with five stars, this book was without question, five stars. If I could give it more, I would.

I had prior knowledge of the problem of crimes against women on U. S. Indian Reservations specifically the inability of determining jurisdiction of areas, adding to the fact (due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling) that on the reservation, non-Indians cannot be charged with crimes committed on Indian reservations, so I wasn’
I still haven't forgiven Louise Erdrich for The Crown of Columbus, that turd of a book she wrote with her then-husband, Michael Dorris. National Book Award winner, or not, quite honestly, I only read this one because I needed a book set in North Dakota for my Reading the 50 States challenge.

I was actually fine with the main storyline of how a mother's brutal rape affects the entire family, UNTIL Erdrich began introducing minor characters with stories to tell that were far richer and more compel
Mij Woodward
Maybe it's my age (68). Maybe it's a peculiar idiosyncrasy that I am unable to tolerate ANY passages in a novel that seem to be aimed at teaching me something.

I do like to be taught. But in a novel, any teachings have to be cleverly disguised, and just sort of snuck into the plot.

Maybe all that I learned about the Chippewa in North Dakota, and the injustices they and other Native groups face from our country's stupid fractured legal system, and life on the reservation--maybe that learning deser
I hate cilantro; even a tiny bit can ruin an otherwise wonderful dish. I mostly hate ghosts, mythology, dreams, religion, and political messages, and these topics all ruined an otherwise fine novel. I realize it’s a long list of dislikes, but really, a novel should be all about character and plot development. The characters were sort of boring or too stereotypical, and the plot, though interesting, was too broken up for me to appreciate it. Okay, the main character, Joe, did struggle with the bi ...more
Kylie Brown
Easily the best book I've read in 2012. So good that I'm writing my first review. The Round House is beautiful, sobering, and heartbreaking, yet manages some humorous moments as well. At its surface, this book is about a rape committed on an Ojibwe reservation, the aftermath of this brutality. At its heart, it is about what we call "soul wounds", redemption, the abiding love a boy has for his mother, the coming of age of a boy whose life is defined by one tragic event, and the sad truth of how p ...more
The National Book Award Winner for Fiction (2012)

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
A copy of The Round House was provided to me by Harper Collins for review purposes.

'The sun fell onto the kitchen floor in golden pools, but it was an ominous radiance, like the piercing light behind a western cloud.'

In 1988, thirteen year old Joe is forever changed when he and his father come home to find his mother covered in blood. She had been attacked, but she managed to get away to safety. Joe is unable to understand
Diane Yannick
National Book Award? Not for me. An important Native American legal loophole was brought to light.---when a Native American woman is raped by a non-native man, legal jurisprudence is lacking. For me, this could have been done more effectively with a tighter, more focused story.

I cared about Joe, the 13 year old whose mother was raped. I appreciated the author's authentic voice and her use of elder's stories when they directly related to the storyline.

What I didn't like was all of those rambling
Apr 21, 2013 Mosca rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mosca by: Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich surprises me every time.

I feared that this book was going in one direction for almost 85% of its progression. But, behaving like the stealth predators she references repeatedly here, Louise Erdrich restructures the assumptions; and compels the reader to reassess.

We are then trapped.

So much is brought together in the last 15% that this reader will certainly re-read this book.

History, the Spirit world, our depraved political and legal nightmare
I am not even going to try and review this book because Will did such a fantastic job of it already:

I only want to add that the friendship between Joe and his best friend Cappy was so affecting it almost killed me.
Jan Rice
Don't you Indians have your own hospital over there?

It's 1988 and Joe and his father have brought his grievously injured mother to the hospital. He doesn't evade his interlocutor's gaze; his mother has taught him how to respond when such sentiments break out.

There has been a crime. But because this is a reservation and because the location of the scene of the crime isn't clear, the perpetrator walks. His mother has been devastated. His idolized father, a tribal judge, is suddenly stripped of s
A violent sexual attack. A woman too afraid to talk. The trauma that takes her inward; the husband and son left to deal.


Yet this story is about so much more. It is about a son's love, about a teenage boy who turns detective and recruits his friends to search for his mother's attacker. It is a story about best friends, the male dynamic; about family. It is a story told through the tangles of love, lust, deceit, and greed.

The novel provides a pastoral landscape of the Native American c
I've read and enjoyed a number of Erdrich's books and wanted very much to enjoy this one as well. Unfortunately I didn't. I kept waiting for it to grab me, for something more powerful to come along, for something to truly happen. But nothing ever did. I hate to say it, but, to my dismay, I found this story dull. I could feel throughout the story an underlining subtlety of emotion and, well, story, but it was never released. Perhaps because I found the characters too softly defined - I simply cou ...more
I would be surprised that this won the National Book Award, but I’ve read plenty of outright bad Pulitzer winners, so I’m not really. This book was okay. I didn’t like any of the characters especially that irritating little dip of a protagonist…well, Sonja has some nice scenes near the end. I was not that into the lack of quotation marks, but it wasn’t too distracting. What was distracting was the occasional lapse into the present tense because the book has Joe telling a story about his childhoo ...more
The Round House has been described as “riveting and suspenseful”. I felt neither. It starts off with the promise of a good mystery and tense family drama. Poor Joe, a thirteen year old boy, has witnessed the aftermath of a horrific crime against his mother. Since the story is told by Joe, I wanted the focus to be on his search for justice, but we get his thoughts on Star Trek, his obsession with big boobs, silly comments regarding the male appendage, and lots of puke. (Of course, Joe is thirteen ...more
Aug 21, 2013 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Maria
Recommended to Barbara by: Local book group selection
Louise Erdrich, noted for her revealing novels relating to life for Native Americans, has set this on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota in 1988. The Roundhouse focuses on a young adolescent, Joe. Following his mother’s brutal rape and refusal to speak of the experience, Joe attempts to cope with her slow physical and mental recovery and also confront his own frustrations with trying to help her and comprehend all that has transpired. Questions of jurisdiction and treaty law complicate matt ...more
Ownbymom Ownby
This is the kind of book that takes my breath away because of the exquisite way in which it is structured. Everything is woven together and no detail is wasted. The protagonist, Joe, is a thirteen-year old boy. This is an inspired choice, because it's the age at which we leave one world (childhood) to enter another (adulthood). Yet, it's not a graceful transition. Some days are spent with light pleasures such as bikes, Star Wars, Star Trek and camping. Others are spent with the heavy realization ...more
One beautiful spring morning on an reservation in North Dakota the lives of one family were changed forever.

It started out with 13-year old Joe and his father, BazilCoutts, the tribal judgeon an Indian Reserve in North Dakota, as they contentedly work together at spring yard cleanup. As the day turns to early evening concern of the whereabouts ofJoe's mother mount. Even if she'd gone to visit her sister after running her errands she would have returned by now to start dinner.

"Women don't realize
Such a beautifully written book. I was a fan of Erdrich's writing after I read Shadowtag, her previous book. The Round House is so much better.

The story is narrated by Antone Bazil Coutts or Joe, a thirteen year old kid living in the Ojibwe Indian reservation in Hoopdance, North Dakota. His father is a tribal judge, and his mother, a person who works registering and tracing Indian ancestry. On the day the book opens, Joe's mother is attacked - brutally raped - and she refuses to reach out to any
This is a difficult book to give a star rating to. Writing and characterization for me were both fives. The story was very good. It made me angry and sometimes it disgusted me and then at others, it made me laugh. Audio performance was just ok. It felt to me as though the narrator read the book for the first time while doing the narration, because words were emphasized that shouldn't be, which changed their meaning at times. He probably went too slow for most people, although for me it was nice ...more
Louise Erdrich foi a vencedora do National Book Award em 2012, com o romance A Casa Redonda

Um livro muito bem escrito - que cruza misticismo com realidade - que nos deixa angustiados, não apenas pelo que lemos, mas, também, pelo que imaginamos.

A acção decorre em 1988, numa reserva índia dos Estados Unidos.
Joe tem treze anos. Vive com o pai e a mãe, uma vida serena e feliz. Mas, um acontecimento trágico vem perturbar esta harmonia . Um crime hediondo que, embora, a vítima sobreviva fisicamente, a
The Round House digs deep into unearthing the very nature of justice in a world that is rarely just and seldom fair.

Our narrator – an Ojibwe lawyer named Joe Coutts – recalls his 13th summer from the perspective of time. Joe’s position as the only child of tribal judge Bazil Coutts and tribal clerk Geraldine Coutts kept him feeling loved and secure until his mother is brutally and sadistically raped as she attempts to retrieve a potentially damning file. Although the rapist is rather quickly ide
Molly O'Holleran
Review of The Round House

How can a nation be conquered? The Round House, by Louise Erdrich, is a story of American Indians wrapped in oral tradition and mythology that can instruct affirmative action through mysterious parallels to another time. The Ojibwe are among the largest groups of Native Americans-First Nations north of Mexico. They are dependent on roots to provide a foundation for sustainability. However, the Reservation often produces shaky foundations that result from a conflict of so
4.5 stars
I'm having trouble settling my thoughts to write coherently about this novel, but it took my breath away. So many elements I love:
Coming of age
Unfamiliar locale (an Indian reservation in South Dakota May as we'll be the other sis of the world)
Dark and disturbing, but not without beauty
A bit of a mystery
A complex moral dilemma without clear answers
And, oh, a brave tragic, entangled, unresolved ending.

I don't know why it's taken me so long to read this author but I will be trying her agai
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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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“Now that I knew fear, I also knew it was not permanent. As powerful as it was, its grip on me would loosen. It would pass.” 36 likes
“I stood there in the shadowed doorway thinking with my tears. Yes, tears can be thoughts, why not?” 24 likes
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