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The novels of Erdrich's have to them a feeling of mysticism -- a breath of earthy magic that always makes me feel like I'm secretly observing something that will disappear or skitter away if I make even a peep. It's best to just simply listen to her beautifully arranged words; put yourself in her hands and know you will be taken into her delicate universe. The most simple and mundane routines that go on in this world become significant, as if every action and every word is a ritual that has bearing on the earth itself. The characters have a sense of wounded animals -- people struggling with the day to day in addition to their perception of a world different from their story of creation and history. Few writers can lay open their characters to the readers with such familiarity and intimacy. Even her most wretched and treacherous characters seem without guile, from the alcoholics that plan on murderous revenge, the young girl set on causing as much pain and trouble as possible, to the drug addict pilfering medications from the old folks home.
With LaRose, Erdrich again draws her readers into the realm of Native history and mythology, specifically that of the Ojibwe Indians of North Dakota, as she has done in several of her previous books. As outlined in the provided summary, Landreaux Iron realizes he has mistakenly shot his neighbor's 5 yr. old son (whose mother is also his sister-in-law). Seeking counsel he follows a King Solomon type of retribution and offers his own son to the grieving parents. They resent the gesture yet at the same time are desperate for their little boy ... “He was Dusty and the opposite of Dusty.” Ancestors rise from history to and walk through this story that ties the past to the present with a connection through LaRose, told in flashbacks about an ancestor with a tragic past also named LaRose. The story is emotionally wrenching, but Erdrich softens the pain with humor and the sweet naivete of children.
The author narrates the book perfectly, simply and without flourish. It feels as natural and organic as the novel, lovely and intimate. Probably a little more accessible than some of her novels and definitely one that stands alone.
22 of 26 people found this review helpful
Another great novel by Louise Erdrich; her characters are palpable, her dialogue sounds just like people speak, she creates multiple intertwining plot lines, and she keeps the whole thing moving forward without any apparent effort.
This is a story where the title character isn't really the main--or at least not the only main--character of the story. The novel allows the reader/listener to figure out who might be the center of the novel slowly. I loved this technique. (Of course, like many or maybe all of her books, the "main character" is the entire community described in the book--including the community's history and ancestors.)
The issues that the characters deal with will be familiar to those who have read Erdrich before. She broadens the story by exploring lives of the ancestors of the characters in the book--and the stories they told and still tell.
I am not necessarily a fan of Author-read books. This is an exception. Erdrich's narration was perfect for the book; her phrasing was precise. The minor but consistent changes in her voice indicated which character was speaking, and her accents were spot-on.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful