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Literature & Fiction

Released: 2016-05-10

LaRose: A Novel by Louise Erdrich


In this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich, the bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture.

North Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich.

The youngest child of his friend and neighbor, Peter Ravich, Dusty was best friends with Landreaux’s five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have always been close, sharing food, clothing, and rides into town; their children played together despite going to different schools; and Landreaux’s wife, Emmaline, is half sister to Dusty’s mother, Nola. Horrified at what he’s done, the recovered alcoholic turns to an Ojibwe tribe tradition—the sweat lodge—for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and Emmaline will give LaRose to the grieving Peter and Nola. “Our son will be your son now,” they tell them.

LaRose is quickly absorbed into his new family. Plagued by thoughts of suicide, Nola dotes on him, keeping her darkness at bay. His fierce, rebellious new “sister,” Maggie, welcomes him as a coconspirator who can ease her volatile mother’s terrifying moods. Gradually he’s allowed shared visits with his birth family, whose sorrow mirrors the Raviches’ own. As the years pass, LaRose becomes the linchpin linking the Irons and the Raviches, and eventually their mutual pain begins to heal.

But when a vengeful man with a long-standing grudge against Landreaux begins raising trouble, hurling accusations of a cover-up the day Dusty died, he threatens the tenuous peace that has kept these two fragile families whole.

Inspiring and affecting, LaRose is a powerful exploration of loss, justice, and the reparation of the human heart, and an unforgettable, dazzling tour de force from one of America’s most distinguished literary masters.

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Editoral Review

An Amazon Best Book of May 2016: The premise of Louise Erdrich’s stunning La Rose is provocative. A man goes deer hunting and accidentally shoots and kills his neighbor’s son; so consumed by guilt and sorrow, the man and his wife agree to give their son LaRose to the distraught neighbor to raise. It was their penance, as both Catholics and Ojibwe. From this shocking and painful beginning, Louise Erdrich spins an amazing, complex tale of love, family, obligation; the book moves among generations and eras (La Rose is a family name that has been used by both males and females), arriving at a present day conclusion that is both thoroughly modern and rooted in indigenous culture. This is Erdrich at her best, weaving together Native American and white culture, the strands of America. But what makes this book particularly strong – and what even those of us who love Erdrich’s books can sometimes forget – is what a beautiful writer she is. One character is “a branchy woman, lovely in her angularity.” She also can be wryly observant – “suddenly it seemed everyone was saying it is what it is…as though this was a wise saying.” And her depiction of a kind of practical joke two kids play with a school bus is equal parts joyful and terrifying. If you haven’t read Erdrich before, LaRose is a good a place to start; if you have, you won’t want to skip this lovely, smart addition to the canon. –Sara Nelson

Book Details

Author: Louise Erdrich Publisher: Harper Binding: Hardcover Language: English Pages: 384

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