I recently finished Louise Erdrich’s The Round House and was blown away by the story and the emotions she was able to convey on the page. Here are six things that I loved about it:
1. The pain of the characters was evident in the words. So frequently, we are told how the characters feel, but it takes a special kind of author to be able to make us feel that pain and anxiety, as well.
2. She didn’t shy away from the difficult. Make no mistake about it: this is not a book for the squeamish. I admire an author who is willing to tackle a tough subject and who doesn’t strive for the easy ending or the predictable plot path. This book took turns that I truly didn’t except, and I loved it so much more for that.
3. The teen years. So many of my favorite books and movies mine this time period for its atmosphere of growth and change and daring. This book is many things, and one of them is a coming-of-age story set in the midst of true hardship, both internal and external.
4. A love for the human spirit flows from the characters. I believe in it — I think that Erdrich does too.
5. The strength of the bonds of friendship. They are real in our lives and they exist on the pages of this book. These boys do so much for each other. Just like I do for my friends now. Just like I did for my friends back (way back) when I was a teen. And I love that these are male friends. There hasn’t been enough of these kinds of stories in my TBR stack lately.
6. There are glimpses into the future of our characters. This is a difficult story, but this storytelling technique never lets us get too far down, too uncomfortable with the events that we feel compelled to put the book down and pick it back up at a later time. (I’m looking at you, GRRM.) At least, I didn’t. I took comfort from the fact that there was good future ahead for our protagonist, even when things were most grim for him in his present.