The Round House

Editorial reviews

The Round House

The Round House is an incredible novel.

Spiritually enlightening and morally insightful, this is a book of many facets, centered on the round house itself, a symbol of the female heart of Native America.

While The Round House may lack some of the vibrancy of Erdrich’s early novels, it more than compensates with a sombre clarity and deserves to be ranked with her finest work.

The Round House is a very well-written book from an obviously mature writer.

There are teen crushes, outrageously inappropriate old people, and faithful friends. In some ways, it feels comfortable and familiar, like "Encyclopedia Brown" with darker content, or "Stand by Me" with not-quite-as-dire a crime at its heart.

Despite its harrowing premise, the book has moments of humour, and Erdrich gives us a sense of the glorious richness of Native American culture as it endures in the face of hatred.

Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House.

Although its plot suffers from a schematic quality that inhibits Ms. Erdrich’s talent for elliptical storytelling, the novel showcases her extraordinary ability to delineate the ties of love, resentment, need, duty and sympathy that bind families together.

If “The Round House” is less sweeping and symphonic than “The Plague of Doves,” it is just as riveting.

With its single narrator and tightly focused plot, “The Round House” is more accessible than some of the earlier books in Erdrich’s North Dakota cycle, and older teens might respond to Joe and his struggles.