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Love Medicine

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  16,611 Ratings  ·  1,117 Reviews
Set in and around a North Dakota reservation from 1934 to 1984, this multigenerational story tells of two Native American families, the Kashpaws and the Lamartines.
Audio, Abridged Edition, 3 pages
Published March 1st 1990 by Caedmon (first published 1984)
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Brina
A member of the Chippewa and Obijwe tribes, Louise Erdrich has been a leading voice in Native American literature for over thirty years. Determined to publish her first book before she turned thirty, Erdrich wrote Love Medicine at the age of twenty nine, and this debut novel won the National Critics Circle Book Award. Following the intricate web woven by the Kapshaw and Nanapush families over the course of fifty years, Erdrich creates real characters that tug on the heartstrings of human emotion ...more
Zanna
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
...more
Kirk
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
Julie
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
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Oct 18, 2011 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
...more
El
I recently read Erdrich's The Antelope Wife and really fucking loved it. I am now planning on reading everything by Erdrich I can - luckily for me she has written quite a bit over the years, so I can take my time and maybe not even run out of material.

Love Medicine was her first novel, published in the mid-80s. This one, I understand, was revised and expanded at least a couple times since it's original publication date. One might think that must be hard to do, and I think in a traditional novel
...more
Ann Girdharry
This is such a great book.
It's also a very difficult one to read because it pulls no punches about the Native American experience. In this book you will read about grindingly cruel experiences, the drudgery of daily life, alcoholism and suffering, in-fighting and rivalry that lasts generations.

Erdrich tells us about her characters in small stories, each centred around a different character. Sometimes we read about the same event in different stories, told from different perspectives or perhaps
...more
Lanea
Sep 25, 2007 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
Holly
Mar 02, 2015 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
Connie
"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
T G
Jul 25, 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.
Sarah Anne
So many things in the world have happened before. But it's like they never did. Every new thing that happens to a person, it's a first... In that night I felt expansion, as if the world was branching out in shoots and growing faster than the eye could see. I felt smallness, how the earthy divided into bits and kept dividing. I felt the stars. I felt them roosting on my shoulders with his hand. The moon came up red and warm.

I first read this book in a Native American lit college course in 2000 an
...more
Amy
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?
Kate
Jan 14, 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
Kari
Feb 06, 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
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!
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
Alex
Jul 08, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 2016-bingo
Louise Erdrich's 1984 debut is one of those novels that's not so much a novel as a collection of related short stories, like Manhattan Transfer, Last Exit to Brooklyn and Visit From the Goon Squad. These are not my favorite things; they're hard to engage with. As far as it goes, though, it doesn't get much better than Love Medicine. It's written with total authority - impressive for a debut - and the stories feel of a whole. It follows two Native American families, the Lamartines and the Kashpaw ...more
Luisa
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
...more
Margaret
Apr 18, 2015 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: native-american
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
Linda Abhors the New GR Design
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
Steve
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
Carrie
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
Rick
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
...more
Michelle
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
...more
Becky
Nov 18, 2015 Becky rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book had no definable plot or great story to tell. It was awful.
Cynthia  Scott
Oct 29, 2013 Cynthia Scott rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There may be some treasure in this book but you have to dig through too much verbiage that is just not interesting to find it. I quit.

I do not recommend this book.
Laura
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
Jessika
May 24, 2009 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
...more
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
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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.” 43 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.” 41 likes
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