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LaRose by Louise Erdrich

LaRose - Louise Erdrich

For years I've intended to read a Louise Erdrich book, so decided to pick up her latest release. Once more people have read it, we'll have a clearer sense of how it fits into her body of work and whether this was just a bad place to start.

Because I gave it 100 pages and still wasn't interested in any of the characters, although it's certainly not a poorly-written book. There are a lot of people with a lot of subplots here, and no central character: there are two couples, and six children between them (not counting the one who dies in the opening scene), and then there's the retired grandmother who was married to a cult leader, and the troubled priest, and the klepto cousin, and the random scenes set in 1839 with a sexually abused girl who presumably turns out to be an ancestor of one of the families... it's all pretty diffuse and maybe that caused the distancing effect. Or maybe the writing was just distant: one of the couples decides to give away their child in an act of reparation, which, ancient custom or not, is still going to be a huge and heart-rending decision, but it's presented pretty much as a fait accompli without our getting much sense of how these characters reached that point. At any rate, I just did not become invested in the characters or their lives. But contemporary family dramas aren't my favorite thing anyway, so maybe you'll like it better.