LaRose: A Novel

by Louise Erdrich

Hardcover, 2016

Status

Available

Genres

Collection

Publication

New York, NY : Harper, [2016]

Description

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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Donna828
"There are five LaRoses. First, the LaRose who poisoned Mackinnon, went to mission school, married Wolfrd, taught her children the shape of the world, and traveled that world as a set of stolen bones. Second, her daughter LaRose, who went to Carlisle. This LaRose got tuberculosis like her own mother, and like the first LaRose fought it off again and again. Lived long enough to become the mother of the third LaRose, who went to Fort Totten and bore the third LaRose, who eventually became the mother of Emmaline, the teacher of Romeo and Landreaux. The fourth LaRose also became the grandmother of the last LaRose, who was given to the Ravich family by his parents in exchange for a son accidentally killed." (290)

Please forgive the long quote which won't mean much to those who haven't read the book. It's enough to know that LaRose was a special name passed through the generations to those who seemed to possess certain powers. Not superpowers as we know them from current comic culture, but powers more in the way of the potential for becoming a spiritual healer, especially in the last LaRose who has a special purpose in life. You see, his father, Landreaux accidentally killed his best friend and cousin Dusty in a tragic hunting accident. Full of deep remorse, his parents seek out the sweat lodge for wisdom from their elders and revive the old way of giving a child to replace the lost child. LaRose is only five years old but accepts his strange role with the courage of the old soul that he is.

In typical Erdrich fashion, the stories of the elders are weaved into more contemporary times. This story takes place on the cusp of the 21st Century and centers on the two families affected by the tragedy that opens the story. One family is Ojibwe and one is white which gives pause and provides a vehicle to make note of the oppression of the Native Americans throughout our nation's history, although that is not the emphasis of the book. Grief, forgiveness, retribution, and hope are some of the many themes explored through Erdrich's outstanding storytelling skills.
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LibraryThing member thewanderingjew
Because there are so many threads to this story, and so many important characters, even some that seem to be minor characters who have a major impact, it is best to portray them, and then briefly describe the book. It is a very entertaining and touching read filled with spiritual and mythical moments. The Native American folklore enters the world of fantasy and magic, but it leaves one wondering, at times, if perhaps the fantasy was actually their reality and was the norm before the planned annihilation of the Native American Indian population was executed. White men who had the power wanted to wipe them out and take their territory. As a result, they destroyed the Native American culture. Although the heightened awareness experienced by the Ojibwe tribe’s natives during certain ceremonies was often enhanced with the use of natural substances, their experiences were handed down in an oral tradition and events were presented as if they had truly occurred and were witnessed by others. The legends generally had a moral which was intended to guide their behavior and/or warn them of danger.
The LaRose history in the story begins in 1839 with Mink who came from an Ojibwe family of powerful healers. She is screeching when we meet her. She is the mother of an unkempt young girl who doesn’t speak and lies quietly wrapped in a blanket with her outside a trading post. She is the child who later hints that her name is flower, but her name is actually LaRose. As silent as the girl is, her mother is loud. She screams as she begs for trader’s milk and attempts to sell the child to Mackinnon, the man who runs the trading post. Trader’s milk appears to be an alcoholic concoction to which she is apparently addicted. Wolfred Roberts, a clerk, overhears Mink’s screams and propositions. He tries to protect the girl. He believes that Mackinnon will not harm her, but he soon realizes that he was wrong. With the help of what seems to be magic and the spirit world, the two escape together although they are chased by the rolling head of their victim. She was eleven and he was seventeen. Years pass and she gives birth to the next generation of LaRose and the line of powerful healers continues until the fifth generation with the birth of a son called LaRose. He is the last child born to Emmaline Peace and Landreaux Iron. They had not intended to name their child LaRose, but he just seemed to own the name when he was born.
We meet LaRose Iron when he is five years old. He has a playmate of the same age named Dusty Ravich. They are also cousins. Dusty’s parents are Nola and Peter. Nola is Emmaline’s half sister. They are both related to the Peace side of the family. Nola’s daughter is named Maggie for her great aunt Maggie Peace. LaRose is named for his grandmother, LaRose Peace. The two half-sisters do not get along, but the brother-in-laws are friends. Because of a tragic event which takes the life of Dusty, LaRose becomes the shared child of both families. LaRose, is an “old, young boy”. He is wiser than his years and more mature than even some adults. His counseling is patient and wise. He seems to be a very special child who is liked by all.
In 1967, Landreaux, only about 8 years old, was abandoned by his parents. He wound up in a boarding school on the Indian Reservation where he met Romeo. Romeo was bullied there, and Landreaux was his only friend. Although Romeo was a good student and was happy at school, Landreaux convinced him to run away with him. Tragedy followed them when Romeo was hurt by Landreaux in a freak accident which left him with lifetime injuries and pain. Both boys were caught and returned to the school. When Romeo returned after semi-recovering from his injuries, Landreaux ignored him. Romeo was bereft and angry.
Both Landreaux and Romeo loved their teacher, Mrs. Peace, who happened to also be Emmaline’s mother. They both had crushes on her and soon both loved Emmaline. She chose Landreaux, to Romeo’s dismay, and he resented Landreaux still further and carried a torch for Emmaline into the future. Emmaline and Landreaux were wild for awhile, but with the birth of their children, they gave up substance abuse. When, as an adult, Romeo was unable to care for his own son, Hollis, Emmaline and Landreaux raised him as their own alongside their four other children, Josette, Coochy (Willard), Snow and LaRose. Although it was an act of kindness for which Romeo should have been ever grateful, he continued to harbor resentment toward Landreaux for what he perceived were his past transgressions.
In 1999, Landreaux went out to hunt for a buck he had been watching. He aimed and shot, but instead of the buck, his aim, which was normally excellent, failed him, and a mortally wounded child fell from a tree, hit by shrapnel from the bullet. The child was Dusty Ravich. Emmaline and Landreaux were horrified. Landreaux had killed his nephew! Nola and Peter Ravich were inconsolable. Emmaline and Landreaux went into their sweat lodge to seek counsel, and their combined visions told them that they should give their own son, LaRose, to Nola and Peter to make up for their loss which Landreaux caused. It was the old tribal custom. They brought LaRose to them, and although they only meant for it to be a temporary arrangement to help Nola recover, Nola became very attached to LaRose and refused to return him. LaRose, although very young, realized over the next few years that he and Maggie, his cousin, were responsible for saving Nola from herself, for protecting her mental and fragile emotional health, for preventing her from harming herself. At first, Maggie was very cruel to LaRose and to her mother, Nola, who was very unkind to her, as well. Maggie suffered because of neglect and a lack of love. It was LaRose’s easygoing attitude, patience, and kindness that taught her the value of friendship, devotion, loyalty, love and respect, and she softened under his guidance as their relationship blossomed and their friendship grew. Even though he was very young, LaRose was able to show her a kind of love and loyalty she had never experienced before.
Father Travis Wozniak was the man they all turned to for counseling. He was a survivor of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, and that was what inspired him to become a priest. He bore emotional and physical scars from that time. He also fell in love with Emmaline. Shortly after he realized this, he was replaced by Father Dick Boner, a rather unusual name for a priest, especially under the circumstances, but perhaps apropos.
The narrative moves steadily along and all of the varied themes, abandonment, vengeance, loss, atonement, retribution, and justice, to name a few, are married in the end, but for me, the conclusion was not as satisfying as I had hoped. Although the several threads of the story were knitted together, the resolution of the many underlying issues in the story seemed to work out too neatly and felt somewhat contrived, making the novel seem more like a fairy tale. There was also a very distinct political point of view expressed by Father Travis who witnessed military violence, Romeo who loved John McCain but feared George Bush, and Hollis who was joining the National Guard to give back to his country, never thinking that he would have to serve outside the country in a war. He envisioned saving people at home. However, unknown to him, the Iraq war was looming in the future, and although the Guard had not been used in this way before, it would soon be used to send soldiers to fight outside the United States and into the Middle East.
Using Native American folklore and legends woven into the tale, the author revealed the abuse Indian tribes have historically suffered. Powerless against the more powerful White man who had plans to annihilate them, they were largely wiped out and homeless. It gave voice to the injustice and problems that Native American Indians have had to face ever since, regardless of their tribal background. They have been maligned and neglected. It also demonstrated the power of all choices, right and wrong, innocent or guilty, from all quarters, on the lives of those making them and those that are the victims of those decisions. This author brings all to our attention by merging the past with the present to illuminate the pain and suffering, the spirituality and superstition, the neglect and abandonment, the continuing struggle to achieve success in a world that had rejected and robbed the Native American Indian and condemned them to second class status. It would seem that even today, they hold true to their traditions and seek help from their spirit world to provide answers for their questions and solutions to their problems, to find the justice they continue to seek.
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LibraryThing member KLmesoftly
LaRose is a complex novel, but has two plotlines at its core - it follows the lives of 5 generations of Native American women (and a boy) named LaRose, and it follows the modern-day family of the current LaRose, a young boy who is given as kind of a shared stepson to his aunt and uncle after his father accidentally kills their only son in a tragic hunting accident.

I hesitated over that plot summary - it sounds quite dark and heavy when stated baldly, so I want to emphasize that the prevailing tone of the work is one of hope and a celebration of familial love. Erdrich is a master at dealing with heavy themes without really weighing on the reader; there's a lot of joy and humor even as it confronts some harsh and horrifying realities. I would compare it to another recent favorite of mine, Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being in this respect.

Both plotlines are expertly woven together and incredibly compelling, but the modern day storyline around LaRose and his blended family was the highlight! I loved seeing these families slowly heal - I feel like lately I've read a lot of books about trauma that can't be recovered from and its poisoning the life of the traumatized, so it's very refreshing to see a different take on the aftermath of wounds like this.
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LibraryThing member Jolynne
This book is not one of my favorite books by the author and only because I found the ending a bit flat and scattered. What I did like was the way the author showed us how the death of child impacts all members of a family. I also enjoyed the history of all generations of LaRoses.

As in her previous book I appreciate the way the author brings to light issues that normally go unheard by the general public and topics that are not mentioned in schools. Issues such as the trauma of forced boarding schools, the toll tuberculosis took on so many, why the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act came in to effect and the fact that L. Frank Baum was an Indian hater.

I am glad the author has this history and connection with her ancestors and is able to share with the world. Erdrich is and always will be a favorite.
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LibraryThing member Stahl-Ricco
This book starts with a punch to the gut. Just one of the worst case scenarios. Oof. And that first chapter ends with a draw dropping decision! The rest of the story deals with the repercussions of that decision, the two families involved, and a little bit of their ancestors' tales and the path of the ages that make the boy, LaRose. The writing is excellent, the story diverse, and the revelations of Native American life, and life on a reservation, are beautiful. My only negative is that I hated, hated, hated the character of Father Travis! If he were not in it, the story would not be affected and I would have 5 starred this book! As it is, it is a terrific read, with one of the more difficult topics I have grappled with in a book.… (more)
LibraryThing member mamzel
Two families joined by blood, tradition, and tragedy. One living on the res, 6 kids, one kind of adopted son, and the other has two children, one boy (Dusty) and one girl. Landreaux, the father of the first family, was hunting one day and accidentally shot Dusty. In the traditional way he offers his own son, LaRose, to the other. On this boy's shoulders falls the responsibility of trying to heal both families.

The reader is immersed in the lives of a small community and all of its strengths and weaknesses. The weave of lives is complicated and close-woven and exposed. Erdrich uses all of the senses to bring a setting to life. I can't think of any other book I've read that presents such complete descriptions of smell to describe a forest or kitchen setting.
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LibraryThing member novelcommentary
I woke up at 3 am and finished this novel because I knew the Overdrive application that lets me borrow ebooks was taking it back within hours. That's how good this novel was. Erdrich , for many years has given us a wonderful niche of literature that depicts the often sad, but proud lives of the displaced American Natives. Erdrich's writing often spans generations and voices, combining myths with historical facts, and it is always rewarding to chart the connections. In this one the title refers to a name given to a child who is special, has healing powers. It is a name that has been passed down for five generations. The tragic set up for the story - a man accidentally killing his best friend's son and in return giving him his own as a sort of justice- allows the author to set up the explanation for the name. " That name would protect him from the unknown, from what had been let loose with the accident. Sometimes energy of this nature, chaos, ill luck, goes out in the world and begets and begets. Bad luck rarely stops with one occurrence. All Indians know that. To stop it quickly takes great effort, which is why LaRose was sent. "

LaRose learns to accept his new role and seems to understand that he is the medicine that tries to heal the two families. Various characters are intertwined with the narrative telling many different stories. It is through these subplots that a broader picture is presented. There is Romeo, who steals bits of information from his work at the hospital so that he can hopefully exact a revenge against Landreaux, who was his best friend. "Romeo had a caved, tubercular-looking chest, scrawny arms, a vulturine head, and perpetually stoked-up eyes. His hair had started falling out and his ponytail was a limp string. He flipped the string behind him with the flat of his hand, as though it were a lush rope. The day was bright. He had hoped to start the morning with beer to dim the sunshine, but of course he couldn’t do that in front of his sponsor. " His sponsor is Father Tracy, who appeared in Round House, the Vin Diesel-like, ex Marine priest, who runs AA meetings while trying to stay sober and dealing with his love for another man's wife. He is the counselor for all problems since " THE ONE PSYCHOLOGIST for a hundred miles around was so besieged that she lived on Xanax and knocked herself out every night with vodka shots." Probably my favorite character was Maggie, who goes from the cold hearted, mean spirited teenager whose brother was killed, to being protective of her suicidal mother and gets a new start when LaRose's sisters welcome her into their new school and teach her the arts of volleyball, and contraception. And then there is LaRose, the magical child who can go to the spot where his friend was killed and commune with the elder spirits who can speak to him. He is one of the five LaRose's who through the generations have always been special. The first, who also takes a part in the narrative, is able to fight off tuberculosis and this magic prompts a doctor to enshrine her bones for science, bones that the family wants returned. These stories capture the reader and the writing makes the journey worth taking. It even made my too few hours of sleep worth missing.
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LibraryThing member Itzey
I can’t think of another book that I picked up, put down and re-read from the beginning as many times as I did with LaRose. In the end I didn’t give up.

I could hear my Algonquin Grandmother Delina telling me, “Pay attention! Slow down. There’s a lot to learn here about the clash of native and European cultures and religions.”

The Irons and Raviches live on either side of the Ojibwa reservation border. Landreaux Iron and Dusty’s father, Peter had forged a respectful friendship in spite of their cultural differences. Their wives, Emmaline Iron and her half-sister Nora Ravich, however, harbor a deep seated sibling rift that has roots deep in the past. The two sisters became pregnant at the same time and their two sons, Dusty and LaRose, enjoy the purity of childhood friendship unaware of the tenuous bonds between the two families
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Landreaux Iron, an Ojibwa native, is out hunting venison for his family. The novel opens with an introduction to Landreaux and provides clues to everything that happens for the remainder of the book.

"Landreaux was a devout Catholic who also followed traditional ways, a man who would kill a deer, thank one god in English, and put down tobacco for another god in Ojibwe."
"The buck turned…giving Landreaux a perfect shot… there had been a blur the moment he squeezed the trigger. Only when he walked forward to investigate…did he understand that he had killed his neighbor’s son. He dropped his rifle and ran through the woods to the Ravich house…Landreaux [tried] to utter [Dusty’s] name. Nola had just checked, found [5-year old Dusty] gone, and was coming out to search for him when she heard the shot."

This tragedy on the border of the Ojibwe reservation in 1999 rips open the hearts and minds of both families. As each person struggles to grieve the loss of this small child, they find themselves facing much more than the loss of Dusty. Mired in their grief, they each scramble for relief from the pain.

The Raviches seek justice and the Irons seek a reprieve from the unremitting remorse and self-recrimination. Pathways to deep seated and long buried person trials are reopened in everyone and threaten to destroy what remains of their self-control and possibly their own survivals.

The shift in the story following the immediate aftermath of the tragedy threw me for a loop until I followed Grandma Delina’s advice to stop questioning things. I discovered that LaRose, the name, not merely LaRose the child, had been significant for generations and “was a name both innocent and powerful, and had belonged to the family’s healers.” Erdrich takes the reader back through time to back-light the harshness of life in colonial times and the origin of the name LaRose.

Landreaux, after spending time in his sweat lodge and fasting, determines there is only one thing he can do to make things right with the Raviches. Following old Ojibwe tradition, he gives his favored son, a child that has always seemed to be on earth for a purpose, to the Raviches to replace Dusty.
Through the ensuing drama of this decisive action, an old enemy threatens Landreaux’s future, the parish priest struggles to serve his flock, the remaining characters rise and fall through tough times before reaching an unexpected but in my opinion that completely satisfactory conclusion. Things felt wrapped up too quickly.

In the end I found it hard to rate the book. There were distractions that I thought muddy things such as Peter’s obsession with the end of the world at midnight on Dec 31, 1999. I wasn’t sure Emmaline’s and Father Travis’ tryst was necessary. Nola’s misplaced anger directed at her daughter, Maggie, was hard reading.

It was a solid read. Fans of Erdrich’s will like the book very much.
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LibraryThing member Beamis12
From the synopsis, so this is not a spoiler, we know that there is an accident that causes the death of a child. In Native American culture this requires an act of atonement, so Landreaux Iron, the perpetrator convinces his wife Emmaline to give their young son Larose to Peter and Nola, the parents of the dead child. This act sets off armchair of events that will take years to overcome.

Mixing Native American culture with some magical realism, Indian folklore, customs and some beautiful prose is a hallmark of Erdrich's work. She takes a heartbreaking scenario and uses a broad reach to show the reader the impact on all involved. This young LaRose is a very special person, actually the fifth Larose in his bloodline as we learn in various back stories of the other LaRoses. Loved reading the stories of this families lineage, the wonderful characters who bore this name and their amazing abilities. In the present day this young man will try to overcome the obstacle of belonging to two different families, trying to save everyone involved and becoming the unifying presence in their grief. Grief is very much a theme in this novel, grief and its effects on all. In the end a act to prevent a tragedy will prevent a larger tragedy later in the book.

The characters change throughout this book, both families but also a man named Romeo who was at a boarding school with Landreaux. He gave his own son to the Irons to raise and has much to forgive and atone for himself. All these separate stories are pulled together masterfully by books end. A book where there are really no bad guys, just people who have made bad decisions or have been touched by fate.

ARC from publisher.
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LibraryThing member padmajoy
Beautifully written. Painful but honest insights into human nature and the nature of how relationships are healed.
Many new insights for me into the Native American culture.
LibraryThing member wagner.sarah35
Overall, a rather sad, serious book. I really struggled to get into this book, although I did make it to the end (and encountered Father Dick Boner- what the heck!?!). I appreciated the struggles of the characters and the difficult choices they made, which made for a compelling story, but the multiple character points of view and quasi-nonlinear structure made this tale a little difficult to follow at times.… (more)
LibraryThing member SamSattler
It is difficult to imagine anything more devastating to a man than accidentally killing his best friend's only son, but Landreaux Iron did just that when the little boy somehow managed to get between Landreaux and the elk at which he had just taken a shot. But according to Ojibwe tribal custom there was a way for the Iron family to recompense Dusty Ravich's parents for his loss: all they have to do is give LaRose, their own son and Dusty's best friend, to Pete and Nola Ravich to raise as their own. So they do.

Not that it was easy, and not that it was a decision that could stick forever.

The mothers of the two boys are half-sisters who hardly speak to each other despite the closeness of their sons and husbands. Nola, Dusty's mother, has one other child, a daughter who is entering her prime teen-brat years. LaRose's mother, Emmiline, on the other hand, has four other children, including the one they took in as a boy. The question now is whether either of the two families will be able to survive the loss of their sons.

LaRose is a novel about forgiveness and how far it can be stretched before reaching its breaking point, and Erdrich tells her story beautifully. As the months go by, and the gifting of LaRose to Dusty's family becomes more one of sharing the boy, the two families grow closer than ever before - especially the children. Emmiline's daughters take the slightly younger Maggie Ravich under their wings and do their best to keep her from going astray. Pete and Landreaux (the fathers) manage to rekindle a friendship of sorts, and even if it is not as strong a friendship as it had been before the accident, they seem to be moving it in that direction. And if Nola and Emmiline (the mothers) find it difficult to communicate or to be around each other, well that's nothing new, is it?

But there's always a fly in the ointment, and in this case it's a fly with a deadly grudge against Landreaux Iron going back all the way to childhood. Romeo (the fly) still walks with an obvious limp resulting from a childhood fall he blames on Landreaux, and he is determined to make Landreaux finally suffer as much as he has. The man may be a drunkard and a pill-popper, but when it comes to deviousness, Romeo is rather brilliant, and when he convinces Pete that Landreaux is hiding the truth about what really happened on the morning Dusty was killed, it appears that everything the two families have achieved together is going to be destroyed.

All of this, as usual in a Louise Erdrich novel, takes place on or around a Native American reservation that seems to be almost a separate world unto itself despite the changes brought about by modern times. Erdrich surrounds her central characters with a supporting cast of characters that is equally compelling and memorable. This especially includes the original "LaRose," an Indian girl who was bought by a brutal mountain man, and whose story is told in a recurring sequence of flashbacks throughout the novel. (Each generation of Emmiline's family has had a "LaRose" in it ever since, and her young son carries the name for his generation.).

Louise Erdrich won the 2015 National Book Award for The Round House, but LaRose just may be every bit the equal of that very fine novel. This is one not to be missed.
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LibraryThing member Perednia
Louise Erdrich is a grand chronicler of families. Her novels have featured parts of different families, connected tightly or just in passing, throughout different eras. In her latest novel, LaRose, the families are entwined because of tragedy and because of the deep need to belong.

Landreaux is married to Emmaline. Their youngest child is LaRose, a well-loved boy who has a family name, handed down each generation. Emmaline's half-sister, Nola, is married to Peter. They live nearby and have a son the same age as LaRose, named Dusty.

One day while out hunting, Landreaux accidentally shoots Dusty, who dies.

All four adults are berefit. Landreaux is cleared by the police but not by his own consciousness. Wanting to make amends and perhaps hoping to be forgiven, Landreaux and Emmaline follow an old custom. They give LaRose to Nola and Peter to share. The five-year-old spends part of his time with his birth family, including two teenage girls, an older brother and a boy who they have taken in. That boy, Hollis, is the son of Romeo, an old friend of Landreaux's. They are a loving bunch. The Ojibwe family work hard and take care of each other.

Over at the other house, there is only Maggie. She is a teenager who is having to grow up very fast. She knows her mother Nola is having a horrific time coping, even more than her kind-hearted, white father, Peter. Maggie finds it easy to be mean. When some of the loutish boys at her white school attack her, she goes right after them. It's an incident that will have repercussions throughout the novel.

Repercussions carry the narrative. The way the characters all react to Dusty's death and LaRose's new situation living with both families, the way Romeo resents something that happened between him and Landreaux when they were boys, even the way Emmaline's ancestor, the original LaRose, lived, are not isolated incidents.

As Erdrich writes about a character at one point:

The story would be around him for the rest of his life. He would move in the story. He couldn't change it.

That notion fits in well with the idea of belonging. Every character, even Father Travis, who has played a role in other Erdrich novels, tries to find a way to belong. It's not just a matter of fitting in, with the connotation of not being one's own true self. That's what happened to many Native Americans when they were sent to boarding schools to "kill the Indian, and save the man", as the founder of the horrific Carlisle school wrote.

One thing that was not killed in this story is the deeply spiritual side of the characters. From the original LaRose to the siblings of the LaRose in this story, which takes place in the run-up to the beginning of the Iraq War, souls and their journeys have their voices heard.

The boarding school trauma and repercussions from various characters having been sent away to them are an important aspect of the story. Just as in The Round House, when Erdrich weaved in the horrors of what white man laws have done to Native American women, boarding schools are an integral part of who the characters are.

The issues and their impact are serious in Erdrich's work. But she is not a dour novelist. There is much to celebrate in her work, and her characters are the kind to care about because of their joys as well as their sorrows. The spirit of LaRose, a boy wise beyond his years, graces this work even in the pages in which his character does not appear.
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LibraryThing member asawyer
3/5 stars... I've really enjoyed Louise Erdrich, so was excited to read this book. While it's an ok book, and well written, the plot wasn't quite as compelling or intricate as most of Erdrich's books. Characters were somewhat one-dimensional and the story lost momentum in the middle as the generations of LaRose's were introduced. Not my favorite.… (more)
LibraryThing member ibkennedy
Tedious....not my style
LibraryThing member nivramkoorb
This is the 3rd novel I have read by Erdrich and the 2nd that covers Native Americans. The Round House won the National Book Award. LaRose continues the native American themes but is not as compelling as The Round House. She does a great job of educating readers about Native American issues by weaving in the past, present, integration into current society, and the spiritualism of the the culture. The story concerns a man that accidentally kills the 5 year old son of his best friend in a hunting accident. From there the story deals with the aftermath of this event as it impacts the 2 families along with other members of the community. The writing is excellent, but there was just something lacking in some of the characters that did not allow the book to go to a higher level for me. I strongly recommend The Round House and if you enjoy that then LaRose is a worthwhile read. I suggest that you may want to read some other readers opinions on this because both 5 star and 1 star reviews raised valid points of positive and negative criticism. I will add that "Shadow Tag" by Erdrich did not deal with the Native American culture and I enjoyed it very much. It illustrated the versatility of Erdrich as an author.… (more)
LibraryThing member shazjhb
She writes great books and for someone who knows little about Indian culture very meaningful.
LibraryThing member honkcronk
I enjoy Louise Erdrich books and I have read many (but not all) of her works over the last years. The last book I read was "the Round House" and I looked forward to this book as some of the same families are in the community.

LaRose did not disappoint and had some of the same features as her other books. She focuses on the Native American community, in particular the Ojibwe in North Dakota. Despite the prominence of this theme, the book jacket says nothing about this feature of the story, although it mentions a sweat lodge as an important scene in the book.

The story is a sad one of loss of sons from 2 families that are related by two half sisters. One of the themes is the family that caused the cruel accident needs to try to make amends. That would have been the way in traditional Ojibwe culture. The families no longer live in a traditional native american culture, and the book relates the many things that have happened to the families and their ancestors that have washed away many of their memories of traditional life. But some remain, and they try to live with their decision of restoring the son to the family that lost theirs.

I found this a very sad story but I enjoyed the mix of contemporary and traditional culture themes. I will recommend this to my book club, as I did the Round House.
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LibraryThing member Narshkite
Erdrich always writes books which I admire, and this is no exception. The writing here is painfully beautiful, simultaneously conveying langor and acute chronic pain and dissonance That is a neat trick. Overall this was a wonderful read, but somehow the words got in the way of the story in certain parts. Its like listening to a beautiful piece of music you know is complex and interesting, but you lose the individual notes and variations and thereby some of the thrill. Still excellent and recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member brangwinn
My favorite Erdrich story made me feel good to read it. I loved watching a strong Native American family share their son, Larose, with a neighbor family, after the accidental death of a son. I loved the strong (and the weak) characters. I loved Snow and Josette, what a remarkable pair of high school students. Erdich can blend modern reservation life with a respect for the past and make you cheer for the success of her characters, and empathize with emotions of loss and the importance of family and community.… (more)
LibraryThing member mojomomma
LaRose is 5 years old when his father accidently shoots his playmate. To apologize and compensate the family of Dusty, his mother and father decide that the Objiwa way is to give them their son. LaRose moves back and forth between the two families for the next few years while the two families heal. There is a LaRose in each generation of his family, and each LaRose is a interesting and healing individual. There is also a lot of characters who have been to boarding school to encourage them to give up their traditional culture. Just a very interesting book with fabulous characters.… (more)
LibraryThing member Schmerguls
5457. LaRose, by Louise Erdrich (read 3 Apr 2017) (National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction for 2016) This is the 5th book I have read by this author. Most of the time as I was reading I thought it was boring and I had little interest in what was being related. Especially off-putting were some of the mystical flights told of LaRose, a boy who was given to the family of the boy who was accidentally shot by LaRose's father. But, as has happened before as I read this author, towards the end there was high drama and I became most interested in the happenings in the story. That interest did not continue at the same intensity as the book was ending, but that part of the book nearing the end led me to give the book a higher rating than I was intending to give it as I slogged through the earlier part of the book .I did appreciate that many of the characters are admirable and that the ending of the novel was not doleful.… (more)
LibraryThing member beckyhaase
LAROSE by Louise Erdrich
I really wanted to like this book but I just couldn’t sustain an interest in these characters or their story. Perhaps it was the jumps from past to present or present to indigenous tale or family to family, I just didn’t care.
The whole premise of giving away a child (and then taking him back - sort of) just didn’t seem believable. Emmaline never really seemed to be a “real” person, just a non-entity. LaRose was too good to be true. Nola was too submerged in grief to be interesting. Maggie was my favorite character and the most believable. I couldn’t understand why anyone would believe anything Romeo said.
I have read other books by Erdrich and liked them. This one was just a disappointment.
3 of 5 stars for good writing, poor story
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LibraryThing member gypsysmom
Every time I read a novel by Louise Erdrich I feel like I am catching up with old friends. Each book I have read is a new story but some people from previous books make an appearance. It's just like sitting down with an old friend that you haven't seen in a long time and finding out what has been happening in their lives since you last saw each other. I listened to this book which was read by the author which gave the experience another layer of enjoyment.

Landreaux Iron is out hunting one day and finds a magnificent buck close to home. Just as he shoots it his neighbour's son, Dusty, drops out of a tree above the buck and into the line of fire. Dusty is killed instantly and Landreaux feels horrible. Dusty was the same age as his own son, LaRose, and the two often played together. Dusty's father, Peter, is a good friend of Landreaux and Dusty's mother, Nola, is his own wife's half-sister. Landreaux remembers that in the Ojibway history, children were often given to families who had lost their own child so he takes LaRose to Peter and Nola for them to raise. LaRose is a special boy. He misses his own mother and father but he learns to love Peter and Nola and especially Maggie, Dusty's older sister. He also has an ability to see and talk with the spirits of people who have died, including Dusty. With time the two families learn how to share custody of LaRose and accept each other. The fly in the ointment is provided by Romeo, a broken man, addicted to pain killers, who used to be a good friend to Landreaux. He blames Landreaux for his present circumstances and learns information that he thinks will turn Peter against Landreaux.

Another enjoyable book from Erdrich.
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LibraryThing member LynnB
Landreaux Iron, an Ojibwe man accidentally shoots and kills his friend's son. Peter Ravich is not Aboriginal, though his wife is 50% Ojibwe, and a half-sister to Landreaux's own wife, Emmaline. Following ancient tradition, Landreaux gives his own son, LaRose, to Peter and his wife as retribution. This is a fascinating premise for a story, but I found the actual execution of it a bit weak. LaRose, at only five years of age, rises valiantly to the occasion and his brothers and sisters seem to be okay with it as well. I felt the real human emotions of living with such a decision weren't examined.

In spite of that, I enjoyed the book. It's a story of a family coping with life, and it also tells the history of the family going back several generations. It looks at Indian life, with the prejudices, the horrors of residential schools, and the healing powers of ancient traditions. It's well written, as are all of Ms. Erdrich's books and I'll continue to be a fan.
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