by Louise Erdrich
BOOK DESCRIPTION: 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 because 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 mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.
While his father, a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.
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Erdrich’s latest is a stunning chronicle of one devastating summer that forever divides a young man's life into Before and After. It's heartbreaking, but not in the way you'd expect. The catalyst of events is a brutal attack on a Reservation woman. This is awful, but what really affected me was her son Joe’s struggle to process the change in his mother, and solve the mystery in order to bring her peace.
Erdrich’s mastery of the written word is obvious in her perceptive and compassionate portrayal of our teenage hero. She adroitly tackles huge concepts like racism, vengeance, puberty and friendship and balances Joe’s journey with funny (often hilarious) visits to neighboring friends and family, many of whom you’ll recognize from Plague of Doves. And if you haven’t read Plague yet, well, that’s just one more treat to look forward to, as is her newest novel, La Rose, coming out mid-May. ~ Dana