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Library Journal Review
In rural North Dakota, Landreaux and Ravich are friends and neighbors, further bound by their wives who are half sisters. With a single gunshot, their lives change forever, when Landreaux aims at a buck at the edge of a field bordering both properties and kills Ravich's five-year-old son instead. In a shocking act of mourning and forgiveness, Landreaux adheres to an ancient native tradition and delivers his own five-year-old son LaRose, who was also the dead boy's best friend, to the grieving parents: "Our son will be your son now.... It's the old way." From that double cleaving, both families forge new paths toward acceptance and healing, but most of all young LaRose, who moves back and forth between a family who desperately needs him and one who can never fully release him. National Book Award Winner Erdrich (The Round House) narrates her latest novel with solemnity and grace, never resorting to outbursts and manipulation. Just as her prose remains understated and subtle-shockingly so, at times-her reading never wavers from elegance and control. VERDICT Another mesmerizing accomplishment from an unparalleled storyteller. ["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 intersect": LJ 5/15/16 review of the Harper hc.]-Terry Hong, -Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Novelist extraordinaire Erdrich proves she is also a gifted voice actor in the audio edition of her latest novel. She reads with a soft but authoritative voice that works so well with her subject matter-the lives of contemporary Ojibwe in North Dakota torn between their modern ideas and sensibilities and the traditions of their ancestors. Erdrich reads fluently, at a conversational pace that easily draws listeners in. As in The Round House, the story explores the quest for justice and the thirst for retribution. Landreaux Iron, an Ojibwe man, accidentally shoots and kills Dusty, the five-year-old son of his best friend, who is not a member of the tribe. In his anguish, Landreaux turns to an Ojibwe tradition that holds that he must give his own son, LaRose, to Dusty's parents. Erdrich's reading captures the complex emotions of both sets of mothers and fathers and each of their children; of the lonely, jealous alcoholic who years ago gave his son to the Iron family because he couldn't raise him; and of the local priest painfully in love with LaRose's mother. Erdrich's narration adds depth to this contemporary story intertwined with the long history of the LaRose name and Ojibwe culture. A Harper hardcover. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*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
Kirkus Book Review
After accidentally shooting his friend and neighbor's young son, a man on a Native American reservation subscribes to "an old form of justice" by giving his own son, LaRose, to the parents of his victim. Erdrich, whose last novel, The Round House, won the National Book Award in 2012, sets this meditative, profoundly humane story in the time just before the U.S. invades Iraq but wanders in and out of that moment, even back to origin tales about the beginning of time. On tribal lands in rural North Dakota, the shooter, Landreaux Iron, and his wife, Emmaline, trudge toward their neighbors' house to say, "Our son will be your son now." As both families amble through the emotional thickets produced by this act (the wives are half sisters, to boot), Erdrich depicts a tribal culture that is indelible and vibrant: Romeo, a drug-addled grifter still smarting from a years-ago abandonment by his friend Landreaux (and whose hurt makes this novel a revenge story); war vet Father Travis, holy but in love with Emmaline; and LaRose, his father's "little man, his favorite child," the fifth generation of LaRoses in his family, who confers with his departed ancestors and summons a deep, preternatural courage to right an injustice done to his new sister. Erdrich's style is discursive; a long digression about the first LaRose and her darkness haunts this novel. Just when she needs to, though, Erdrich races toward an ending that reads like a thriller as doubts emerge about Landreaux's intentions the day he went hunting. Electric, nimble, and perceptive, this novel is about "the phosphorous of grief" but also, more essentially, about the emotions men need, but rarely get, from one another. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.