by Louise Erdrich
Library Journal Erdrich's most recent novel (after the National Book Award winner The Round House) acquaints us once again with members of the Peace family, though a different branch from the one in A Plague of Doves. The wives in two households, Nola and Emmaline, are half sisters, daughters of retired schoolteacher LaRose Peace. LaRose is an old family name that originally belonged to the family progenitor, a native girl who married a fur trader's young assistant. Nola and Peter have two children, Dusty and -Maggie. -Emmaline and husband Landreaux Iron have four, including their youngest son, LaRose, plus a foster son. In the book's first pages, the two families become inextricably conjoined when Landreaux kills Dusty in a hunting accident, and Emmaline and Landreaux make the agonizing decision to right this accidental wrong with an old form of justice: giving LaRose to the grieving family. The decision reverberates through the two sets of parents and siblings, and the community beyond. VERDICT Erdrich creates a contained world in the dying prairie town of Pluto, a reservation border village, where white and tribal history come together and where Catholic and traditional spirit worlds, modernity and the forbidding past, all intersect. [See Prepub Alert, 11/2/15.]-Reba Leiding, emeritus, James -Madison Univ. Lib., Harrisonburg, VA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Erdrich spins a powerful, resonant story with masterly finesse. As in The Round House, she explores the quest for justice and the thirst for retribution. Again, the setting-a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation and a nearby town-adds complexity to the plot. Landreaux Iron, an Ojibwe man, accidentally shoots and kills the five-year-old son of his best friend, farmer Peter Ravich, who is not a member of the tribe. After a wrenching session with his Catholic priest, Father Travis, and a soul-searching prayer in a sweat lodge, Landreaux gives his own five-year-old son, LaRose, to grieving Peter and his wife, Nola, who is half-sister to Landreaux's own wife, Emmaline. In the years that follow, LaRose becomes a bridge between his two families. He also accesses powers that have distinguished his namesakes in previous generations, when LaRose was "a name both innocent and powerful, and had belonged to the family's healers." Erdrich introduces this mystical element seamlessly, in the same way that LaRose and other Ojibwes recognize and communicate with "the active presence of the spirit world." The magical aspects are lightened by scenes of everyday life: old ladies in an assisted-living home squabble about sex; teenage girls create their own homemade beauty spa. Erdrich raises suspense by introducing another, related act of retribution, culminating in a memorable and satisfying ending. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list *Starred Review* Erdrich has perfected the meteor-strike novel tales that begin with an out-of-the-blue, catastrophic event, and then track the ensuing shock waves. This dramatic structure shapes Erdrich's National Book Award-winning The Round House (2012) and takes on even more intensity here. Two neighboring families live in a North Dakota community in which many of the Ojibwe are related, memories are long, and the wounds of the war against Native Americans run deep: Loss, dislocation, disease, addiction, and just feeling like the tattered remnants of a people with a complex history. The women, half-sisters, do not get along; their husbands have become friends. Landreaux and Emmaline Iron are raising five children, including their youngest, LaRose, a preternaturally soulful five-year-old boy. Nola and her white husband, Peter Ravich, have Maggie and Dusty, born at the same time as Dusty's favorite playmate, LaRose. The summer of 1999 is waning, the Y2K scare growing, and Landreaux, a physical-therapy assistant devoted to his clients and guided by both Ojibwe beliefs and the Catholic Church, is hunting. He's a crack shot, but when he pulls the trigger, the deer flees, and Dusty falls. Landreaux and Emmaline make a devastating decision: they will give LaRose to Nola and Peter. Our son will be your son, Landreaux says. It's the old way. As Erdrich explores the inevitable anguish and complications inherent in this act of sacrifice and attempt at justice, she takes soundings of the wellsprings of trauma and strength shaping these grieving households. The time frame shifts to 1839 when a trading post stood on the land the Irons now occupy. There a desperate Ojibwe woman from a mysterious and violent family trades her daughter for rum, igniting a terrifying sequence of passion, murder, and supernatural revenge. Gliding back and forth in time, Erdrich follows the long line of healers named LaRose, and reveals Landreaux's long-hidden past tied to a boarding school designed to sever Native American children from their roots, as well as his volatile relationship with a fellow student named Romeo, now a brooding, plotting, outlaw loner in the grip of substance abuse, poverty, and rage. Their simmering conflict is a key aspect of Erdrich's increasingly suspenseful inquiry into the repercussions of vengeance. The radiance of this many-faceted novel is generated by Erdrich's tenderness for her characters, beginning with the profoundly involving primary figures. But there's also Father Travis, crucial to The Round House and reappearing here in all his rigor, incisiveness, and unruly desires. A circle of bawdy elder women and the smart and funny sisters Snow and Josette (among the young characters who will fascinate advanced teen readers) provide comic relief and covertly wise counsel, while Peter's extreme preparedness for the turn-of-the-millennium apocalypse offers a piquant reflection on questions of fear and faith. LaRose is the fifteenth novel in Erdrich's magnificent North Dakota cycle about the painful and proud legacy and intricately entangled relationships among Native Americans, whites, and people of mixed heritage, a brilliantly imagined and constructed saga of empathy, elegy, spirituality, resilience, wit, wonder, and hope that will stand as a defining master work of American literature for generations to come.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.