Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Round House” as Want to Read:
The Round House
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Round House

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  97,979 ratings  ·  9,802 reviews
Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

One of the most revered novelists of our time - a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life - Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told
Hardcover, 323 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by HarperCollins
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Round House, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Zoe's Human 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)
Betty Confetti This isn't really a story about forgiveness. It is about justice after tragedy. What is elastic is the form justice takes and what justifies that form…moreThis isn't really a story about forgiveness. It is about justice after tragedy. What is elastic is the form justice takes and what justifies that form. The best person to represent this is Joe's father. He was constrained by the rule of law, which led to an inability to get justice in a court of law. This is ironic because he is a judge. So if he can't get the law to abide to help achieve justice, then who can? And yet he also attacked his wife's rapist in a public setting, which was an irrational act. It clearly represented his inability to forgive. It also demonstrated that justice can be achieved outside of the law, otherwise he would not have gone that route. Joe's father than uses Indian law to justify what he knew in his heart to be Joe's role in meting out justice for the original crime committed. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  97,979 ratings  ·  9,802 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Round House
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 b
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This is a wonderful, moving book, I'm sure it will be one of my reading highlights this year. Picked it up at Newark airport last January. Great, interesting and fascinating story, variety of great and weird characters, a bit of surreal supernatural woven in, insights into the culture, traditions and life on an Indian reservation, the love of family and friends, a coming of age story which made me think a bit of Stand By Me. It's the story of Joe, 13 years old, living on an Indian reservation in ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My first novel by Louise Erdrich, and I am absolutely taken by the story that took me to North Dakota and revealed so much about the world that is still a little unknown to me .... It takes a master to write a book that has an intriguing plot, and that opens to a reader gradually. I love this type of narration .... This novel will stay with me for a long time ...
Feb 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Just an observation of the truth."

I initially gave “The Round House” 3 stars. It is a good read, with some excellent characterization and I read it at a decent pace and enjoyed it while doing so. However, when I was done with it, I was like “well, that was good, what’s next?” I was hoping for it to induce more than that in me. After discussing it with my book club, I moved up my opinion of it. I am content to give it 4 stars in the end.
The good thing about this novel is that the suspense builds
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by: Will Byrnes
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
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: published-2012
The Round House is narrated by Joe, a thirteen year old Indian boy (I hate the term “Native American": it sounds patronising to my ears unless you’re going to call all white Americans “ex Europeans” or some such nonsense: “Indians” might be daft but at least like “cowboys” it summons up the exotic wonder and affection of childhood) living on a reservation when the events depicted in the novel take place. When his mother is raped and becomes a shell of her former self Joe is catapulted into a pre ...more
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.
Terry Everett
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a powerful book.
Julie Christine
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

First things first, yes I am going to use gifs even whilst reviewing a real modern day classic. Don’t like it? Suck it.

Okay. Now that that is out of the way let me ask you all a question: Are you a lunatic like me and sometimes actively seek out something in hopes that it will make you feel bad? If not, let me ‘splain things. I was born with a bit of a deficiency . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

It takes a lot to make me have any emotion aside from happiness
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, a svelte thriller, a lean slice of bildungsroman, a coming of age story. This book is the sequel to The Plague of Doves, which I have awarded five worthy stars.

It’s the late 1980s and an Indian woman has been viciously raped on her home reservation. Her son, Joe, an adolescent, and his father, a reservation judge, want to find the culprit. A homespun investigation ensues, mostly independent of local law enforcement, which appears to be ignoring the whole thing. The judge’s approach t
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wonderful novel, with an ending so stark and sharp and haunting. At times the narrative wanders in ways that frustrate but Erdrich's talent is undeniable and this novel reminds me of Possessing the Secret of Joy for what it does to create fiction that both tells a story and makes a political statement. This book is well worth the read. ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
A suspenseful coming-of-age novel charting an Ojibwe boy’s quest to find and kill his mother’s rapist, with the help of his tight-knit group of friends. In a way that’s especially accessible to teen readers, the fast-paced plot takes on a host of difficult topics—gendered violence, white supremacist terror, the genocide of indigenous peoples, systemic legal injustice. The work’s full of info dumps, to the point that the flow of the story feels choppy, but Erdrich’s writing is arresting.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written novel about a heartbreaking story of violence and revenge.

When a Native American woman is violently attacked on the reservation, her husband and teenage son try to seek justice, each in their own way. But this book is more than that plot — it's a collection of stories of people and life on the reservation. It's also the story of a boy growing into a man, and trying to decide what kind of man he will become.

This was my first Louise Erdrich book, and I picked "The Ro
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
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Cathy DuPont
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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’
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, 2018-read
Native American author Louise Erdrich successfully blends crime fiction with a revenge tale, a coming-of-age story, a narrative about racism and the depiction of life on a reservation - this is the stuff that National Book Award winners are made of. At the heart of "The Round House" lies a specific social justice issue: While Native American tribes have their own courts, they can only prosecute tribal members - but over 80% of the perpetrators of rapes on reservations are non-Native, and most ar ...more
Elyse  Walters
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those stories I can't imagine 'ever' forgetting.
WOW-WOW-WOW...."The WRITING" by Louise Erdrich was EXCEPTIONAL. I wish *I* had words to describe what she 'did' on paper what I liked SOOOOOOOOO much. (I loved how the author 'inserted' ADULT *Joe* like a 'drop-of-spilled-water' into the story---then carried on 'BEING' young *Joe*: smooth -as- silk!)
Readers ALMOST didn't notice what SHE was doing. I loved how the author gave us 'enough' information needed --but not 'too much'.

Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, book-club-pick
I was pretty much sucked into this story from page 1. Erdrich's narration through the eyes of a 13 year old boy is masterful. It's a difficult book to read, for sure, and be warned that it covers some pretty intense topics like rape and abuse. But it's an important story as well, and Erdrich is able to look at some big injustices in light of one character's story in a way that makes it all the more enraging. And yet there is resilience and hope in these characters as they band together. I need t ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars Extraordinary and impressive. I thought the last few pages were not entirely part of the story, just written to tie off loose ends.
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
Spring 1988. A woman is attacked and brutally raped somewhere in the Indian reservation. Joe, the thirteen-year-old son of Geraldine Coutts experienced the shock, horror and drama of his mother's condition when he and his father, Bazil, the tribal judge rushed her off to hospital.

Geraldine's only way of recovering was to shut herself up in a shell of silence and darkness, while the young boy struggled to grow up before the sun rose the next morning. Together with his father, and his best friend
Joy D
Set in 1988 on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, thirteen-year-old Joe’s family is devastated when his mother is subject to a vicious attack. Her reaction is to withdraw, showing all the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, the exact location of the crime is unclear, leading to a quandary among state, federal, and tribal jurisdictions. Joe’s father is a tribal judge, so he helps Joe understand legal ramifications. It starts out as a mystery, with Joe and his friends at ...more
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It was a Sunday morning in the spring of 1988 that Geraldine Coutts, a member of the Ojibwe tribe of North Dakota, whose job and responsibility it was to determine eligibility for tribal membership, hurriedly and appearing distraught, left her home for an unexpected meeting. When she returned home later that day to her husband Bazil and son Joe, they were shocked by her condition... covered with blood and appearing to be in shock. Geraldine Coutts had been severely beaten and brutally raped and ...more
Diane Yannick
Dec 18, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Dave Schaafsma
The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2012, and it has been on my tbr list almost that long, primarily thanks to a great review by Will Byrnes. So I finally read it and liked it a lot. It’s a coming-of-age story set on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It’s the story of Joe, a 13-year-old son, his father and judge Bazil and his mother Geraldine who returns home one day beaten and raped.

Joe’s decision to help solve the crime for his beloved mother is inspiring, as is hi
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Between the Lines: Discussion Question 5 1 5 Nov 14, 2019 01:36PM  
Between the Lines: Discussion Question 4 1 3 Nov 14, 2019 01:35PM  
Between the Lines: Discussion Question 3 1 2 Nov 14, 2019 01:33PM  
Between the Lines: Discussion Question 2 1 2 Nov 14, 2019 01:30PM  
Between the Lines: Discussion Question 1 1 3 Nov 14, 2019 01:04PM  
Eclectic Readers: Episode 53: The Round House 1 5 Jun 09, 2019 12:45PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Vanishing Half
  • Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles
  • Transcendent Kingdom
  • There There
  • Ceremony
  • The Nickel Boys
  • The Grass Dancer
  • Flight Behavior
  • Salvage the Bones
  • The Dutch House
  • A Children's Bible
  • A Burning
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
  • Myths and Mistletoe
  • Deacon King Kong
  • The Water Dancer
  • The Glass Hotel
  • Disappearing Earth
See similar books…
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

Articles featuring this book

Her Favorite Native American Books: A hate crime causes upheaval in The Round House, the latest from the Ojibwa author who celebrates her heritage...
21 likes · 8 comments
“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.” 74 likes
“I stood there in the shadowed doorway thinking with my tears. Yes, tears can be thoughts, why not?” 56 likes
More quotes…