Tag Archives: The Round House

Book Club Reflection: The Round House by Louise Erdrich

21 Apr

It’s been a long time since I went to a book club meeting and no one had anything particularly negative to say about a book. I really enjoyed it and I’m glad it’s one I got to discuss with other book lovers because there was a lot to talk about! To see my thoughts, you can read my review.

Please know that this post will discuss the book in its entirety and will spoil the ending for those that haven’t read it.

When we were introducing ourselves and saying a quick something about the book, one member said something that stuck with me. “I found myself agreeing with things I don’t normally.” She was talking about capital punishment and how much we wanted Lark to suffer for what he’d done. A few said the book reminded them of Stephen King’s The Body, which I haven’t read but feel that the main boys probably help with the comparison.

This book comes with the highest acclaim. Yes, it won the National Book Award but even more than that, it’s highly recommended. One of our members recalled watching a TV special where a panel of authors were being interviewed, one of which was Toni Morrison. When asked who her favorite contemporary American author is, she said Erdrich. And if one only had time to read one of Erdrich’s books, The Round House is the one to read. I tried to find a video of this somewhere but was unable to. If anyone is able to find it, please let me know and I’ll add it here

One of the comments I made in my review and a lot of others agreed with is that Erdrich is very convincing as a 13-year-old boy. She’s a very talented author. Many found the book to be very descriptive, which I didn’t notice. Maybe the audiobook influenced that. The beginning was very heavy and started out with some tough subject matter and we were all surprised by the amount of happiness and humor stored later in the novel. It was a nice surprise after rape and racism early on.

We talked about why it was important that Joe was 13 during the course of the book. The obvious answer was that he was primed for a coming-of-age tale. He was full of raging hormones and emotions, mainly anger and wanted to act out. He lost his childhood very quickly when some of his friends were still boys. These friends were very key to him during such a tumultuous time in his life, especially Cappie. The boys seemed a little older than 13 to us, but we think that is due to the environment where they grew up. They were exposed to a lot and had to have thick skin growing up. A lot of us were struck by the racism expressed by the pregnant woman at the hospital early in the book. It helped set a stage for how the Native American characters were going to be treated throughout. By the end, Joe’s mom was treating him like a man instead of a boy. He had an adult relationship with his parents and he was a man in the other characters’ eyes.

If Joe had been a female character, we think the book might have been a little different. We wondered if a female would have reacted int he same way. Would violence have been the answer? Or would a girl be afraid that she was next? If her mother isn’t safe, she’s not safe and should be scared. On the other hand, a female might have been just as violent, thinking that if she didn’t stick up for her mother, no one was going to stick up for her if the same thing happened to her. It could have gone in a very similar way, but the motivations behind it would have been very different.

Our moderator had pulled up some facts about Native American/White crimes. Approximately 1 in 3 Native American Women are raped by a white man. Why are these crimes not prosecuted? Well, we have to turn to the 1978 US Supreme Court case of Oliphant vs. Suquamish Indian Tribe which ruled that Native Americans do not have the right to prosecute non-Indians. Wow. There have been a lot of other cases since, I’ll mention, but this is a major decision. We were surprised that with all these statistics and legal loopholes, there weren’t more cases of rape and violence mentioned in the book.

One of the techniques Erdrich used that we liked was the Native American legends and stories. The stories Mooshum told in his sleep, the spirit animals that seemed to follow the characters around, and the rituals all played a bit part in the story. It gave everything a slightly unreal tinge to it and made the whole story feel like a legend itself.

The story challenged the westernized idea of family. The family that took care of Joe and raised him was larger than his immediate relatives. His grandmother fed his friends like they were her own grandchildren and Linda looked out for Joe like he was her own child.

Joe’s immediate family relationships were challenged through the novel. His parents were older than most, calling him ‘Oops’ because he was unplanned. He thought of his father as old and slow at the beginning because he didn’t take action, but the relationship between the two matured quickly after Geraldine’s accident and they two were very respectful of each other at the end. He respected his father’s inaction and recognized that it was the right thing for him to do. Basil was so far into his wife’s pain and helping her deal with it that he wasn’t processing his own pain and it was putting a damper on his relationship with his son.

The point of view used in the novel was that of a memory. Joe was talking about what happened when he was 13 from an undisclosed age, likely around 50. He reveals some things about the future to us, such as his marriage to Margaret, his job as an attorney and his father’s eventual death. So the open-ended ending does have some answers.  If he’s a successful attorney, he likely never went to jail for a crime. Or if he was prosecuted the Native American/White discrepancy kept him from being charged and he was still able to practice law. A lot of our members felt a little more at peace with then ending after ruminating on this.

The minor characters in this story were great. Sonja was a favorite of mine though many of us were surprised when she took Joe’s money. Surprised and a bit mad. She’d had a very hard life before Whitey and though being with him felt like being rescued, she was still in a bad place. Maybe even a worse place. We were surprised when Whitey said she was coming back. Maybe she’d run out of money already because we couldn’t think of another reason to come back.

Linda was a great character as well. None of us knew how she was going to react to her brother’s death  and we think her relationship with Joe before the event was a big reason she reacted so mildly. If she and Joe had been strangers, she might have pressed charges. I was surprised that Joe hid the gun at Linda’s house, but we rationalized that after Linda had saved her brother’s life, she would be the last person anyone suspected of killing him.

Joe felt a strong need for justice. To him, the issue was black and white. A man hurt his mother, someone needed to hurt the man. He didn’t see shades of grey, but his father did. If Basil had taken up the shot-gun, would he have been prosecuted. I have my theory on why Joe never went through the justice system and it mainly has to do with Cappie. Basil would have made the first shot. Would he have been charged with the crime?

But the story we’re presented with has Cappie killing Lark. He’s Joe’s best friend and always had his back. Then Whitey covered for him at the gas station because (I don’t understand why) he knew what had happened. They all covered for each other because the sense of an extended family was present. They were all in it together. They’d been taught from childhood that they had to watch out for each other because the government and legal system were against them. I liked this part of the ending.

The part I didn’t like was how abrupt the book’s ending felt. One of our members saw an allusion to Cappie’s death earlier in the book, but many of us missed it. I don’t understand why it had to end that way and it made me sad. Thought I still loved the book.

Our next selection will take us into the world of science fiction with A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. I’m halfway through now and have some mixed feelings. We’ll see how I feel when this is over.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 8-April-2015

8 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


SombraCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s on hold for a while as I work my way through some book club selections.
I got Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins back! Nothing major with this one, just moving forward slowly. I hope I can hang on to it for a while and make some more progress with it.
The audiobook is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. It’s interesting but a really long story. The characters’ names a bit hard to keep separate because they’re all so strange and 2000 BC-esque. I’ll have to look up a character list to write the audiobook review.
I’m really enjoying Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. It’s a lighter story in my opinion, which doesn’t seem to go with the subject well but is still enjoyable.

Recently finished: Fail, again. Nothing new. On the bright side, I posted a review of The Round House by Louise Erdrich yesterday. Check it out!

White TigerReading Next: I’m now very definitive that The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga will be my next book. I promise I’ll get to it soon and I hope to speed through it to get back to ‘Sombra.’


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 1-April-2015

1 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


BreakfastCurrently reading:  There’s been a lot of forward movement on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I took the book with me on a flight to Texas over the weekend and made a big dent in it. I still have about 200 pages to go, but I’m a lot closer.
I lost my eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins until another copy becomes available. I hope it comes back soon, I’m missing this book!
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. This is my only audiobook at the moment so I’m hoping to make some big progress on it this week and next.
I got a new book club selection this week! I’ll be reading Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo this month and I know nothing about it. We’ll see where this goes.

round houseRecently finished: Yes, I actually finished something. I got to the end of The Round House by Louise Erdrich on Friday. It was a great book and I really enjoyed it! I’m excited for the book club discussion of it on the 8th.

White TigerReading Next: Yes, I know The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga has been on here for ages, but I finally have my copy of it! Big steps here. I’ll get to it after ‘Buddha’ so it might be a bit, but at least we’re making forward progress.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 25-March-2015

25 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


round houseCurrently reading:  There’s been a lot of forward movement on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My goal is to finish this book by the end of the year, and I’m hoping to finish it off this summer if not sooner. It’s slow going to read in another language, but it’s been enjoyable.
I lost my eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins until another copy becomes available. On hold.
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. It’s slowing down a bit, but I’m still enjoying it. Seven hours into a seventeen-hour story.
The audiobook in my car is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I’m making great progress on this one and the only problem seems to be that the narrator’s voice makes me sleepy! I have to turn it off for a minute and listen to some rock music if I’m going to stay awake for the drive home. Audiobook problems.

Atomic CityRecently finished: Yikes. Nothing yet again. This is bad, I know. The books I’m moving through are all very long so it’s going to be a while before I finish any of them! This will make for an interesting post at the end of the month. Oh boy.

I was able to do one book review this week, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I really enjoyed the story and recommend it to anyone interested.

White TigerReading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I heard the other two woman in my book club talking about this one and I think it will be interesting to read because it seems very ingrained in Indian culture and I might put my knowledge to the test! And have to Wikipedia a few things.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-March-2015

18 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


StonehengeCurrently reading:  I’ve made a lot of progress on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My goal is to finish this book by the end of the year, but I suspect that I’ll finish it sooner than that. It’s very tiring to read in another language, but I’m really enjoying it at the same time.
I lost my eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins until another copy becomes available. So you can consider this one on hold for a bit. It’s a shame because I was really enjoying it and the plot was starting to move a lot faster!
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. The story just took a really interesting turn so I’m enthralled and want to keep it moving. It gives me a good excuse to cook some complicated dishes this week!
The audiobook in my car is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. This is no happy read but I’m in love with the author’s style and it makes my commute really enjoyable.

Atomic CityRecently finished: I finished The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan last week after this post went up. I really liked the writing and I learned more about the Manhattan Project than I ever would have otherwise.

Only one book review this week, The (Forgotten) Laws of Expectation by Nicole M. Jacob. Let me know how my first poetry review went!

White TigerReading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. My other co-worker-reading-buddy has it now so we’re finally moving forward with this one.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 11-March-2015

11 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently reading:  I’m still working on my resolution to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I have a plan to get to it, but haven’t reached that point yet. As I say every week, it should be soon!
I’m working on my new eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Not a lot of progress this week, just breakfasts and waiting at the chiropractor. Ho hum.
Atomic CityI’m reading a physical copy of The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I’m making the majority of my movement here and I’m clipping along at a good pace. I hope to finish this week and get back to Sombra.
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. The narrator’s voice is still a little bit grating, but I’m really enjoying the story so far and I’m looking forward to being with this one for a long time because it’s 17 hours! Yep, a whopper.
I began the audiobook of The Round House by Louise Erdrich. This is my book club’s next selection and I’m excited about it. It’s been recommended to me several times and I missed the meeting where my other book club met to talk about it.

Recently finished: After all the progress last week, I’ve got nothing this week. I guess that’s the way this reading stuff goes. Oh well.

Two book reviews since last week! I reviewed Zeitoun by Dave Eggers and The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. Both were quality reads.

Reading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Yes, this has been here forever, but it’s the only upcoming book on my radar and I’m not sure when it’s going to get here. I plan to spend my time getting back to Sombra and making movement on that one.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-March-2015

4 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently reading:  I’m still working on my resolution to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. No movement on it this week but I keep seeing it on my bed-side table and thinking I need to get back to it.
Left BehindI’m working on my new eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. This past week was really busy and I slowed down my reading in general and didn’t get to a lot of this one, unfortunately. I hope it takes a turn soon because the action seems to have slowed.
I’m reading a physical copy of The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. It’s really great so far and I’m enjoying the story a lot. There’s nothing better than well-written historical narratives to me. They make me feel well-informed and happy at the same time.
I started a new audiobook to bide my time until my library hold comes in. My mom recommended Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell to me a while ago. She said it reminded of of Ken Follett and that got me to pick it up right away.

Recently finished: We finally finished The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway! It’s been a long journey but after a lot of driving this weekend, we finished it off. I’m glad we did and I’m hoping I remember the beginning well enough to write my review!
Ptolemy GreyI finished the audio for The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley on Friday. The story started out a little hard to read for me but by the end I was really enjoying the story. I’m glad I read this one. Review coming soon.
On Monday night, I spent an hour or so going through The (Forgotten) Rules of Expectations written by my good friend, Nicole M. Jacob. This is a great little collection of poetry and if you’re a fan, I recommend this read.

Only one review written last week, but it seems to have been a really popular one; Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I adored the book and it seems a lot of you did, too!

Reading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. The woman who owns the copy went on vacation but just got back and gave our other member a copy. I’ll see how long until I get a hold of it.
Round HouseMy book club’s next selection is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I have the audiobook on hold and I hope to start it soon!

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Recently Added to my To-Read Shelf

9 Oct

My list has gotten out of control this past week!  Nine books added to it.  That brings me to a total of 95 and I don’t know how I’m ever going to make a dent in it.  Oh Reader, I’m begging you; let me know if any of these are terrible or not worth my time.  I can only read so much before I die.

  1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: After reading Fangirl, Nicole started on this one and assures me that it’s amazing.  Two teens who know falling in love won’t last, but can’t help doing it anyway.
  2. The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly: Here’s another book I won on First Reads!  And to make it even better, it’s set in the 20s and talks about bootleggers.  I couldn’t be more excited.  It’s the story of two detectives who go to investigate the disappearance of fellow agents and get mixed up with Miss Dixie Clay, the most notorious bootlegger in the south.
  3. Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson: On my previous post talking about the credentials a writer needs, Nicole send me a list of links and one was to Ingermanson’s blog.  I liked is writing style and advice so I think a read of his book might be in order.
  4. Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson: The logical following of a book on writing fiction is the more niche book on YA fiction.
  5. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys: I have a theory that if you see a book twice, you should just scoop it up and read it.  I saw Sepetys book once on Bermuda Onion’s Weblog so when I saw it again (Lord knows where), it had to go on the list!  The daughter of a prostitute, Josie longs to get escape New Orleans but the thread tying her to a mysterious murder is strong.  It sounds like some solid YA fiction that I’m glad I found.
  6. Waiting to be Heard by Amanda Knox: After how much I disliked Jaycee Dugard’s memoir, I was hesitant to add Knox’s to my list.  When a friend from my Spanish group recommended it, I couldn’t resist and here it is!  If you’re unfamiliar with Amanda’s story, I’ll summarize.  She was 20 and studying abroad in Italy when her roommate was killed.  Amanda was tried and convicted of the murder, spending four years in Italian prison before new evidence brought the case back to trial and she was acquitted and allowed to move home to the US.  This is her story.
  7. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed: This is another book I’ve seen repeatedly and couldn’t keep off of the list.  This memoir traces a woman’s decision to escape from a crumbling life and hike alone on the West Coast trail with minimal experience.  I do love a good memoir and this one seems to have won many awards (hopefully for the right reasons).
  8. Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market by Victoria Hanley: I asked at my writer’s workshop if anyone had read any good books about YA publishing specifically and this one was recommended.  I hope to give it a go soon!
  9. Writing and Selling the YA Novel by K.L. Going: This was another workshop recommendation and I’m not as sold on this one.  Any suggestions, reader?
  10. The Round House by Louise Erdich: Recommended by my supervisor who reads almost as much as I do!  When his mother is violently attacked, Joe is desperate to bring her back from the edge as she draws into herself.  His quest takes him and his friends to the Round House, a sacred place of worship of the Ojibwe.

Reader, I implore you for your help!  Which of these are keepers and which can I pitch?  Please help me prune down the ever-growing list to a manageable size!