When a child is killed in a hunting accident, the family of the shooter attempts to find redemption and reconciliation with the victim's family. A drastic act of apology creates a fraught but permanent tie between the families, sparking questions about loyalty, trust, and memory. What defines family? Can justice ever be gained? As in life, no real answers appear - Erdrich simply traces these lives as they tumble apart and are drawn back together at the edge of a North Dakota reservation, at the edge of old tradition, at the edge of the spirit world. Erdrich's striking prose feels effortlessly powerful, direct and piercing; the agonies, hopes, and longings of these characters become the reader's own, unadorned, unyielding in their realness. Relentlessly affecting from the first page.— Julia
Louise Erdrich’s last novel, the National Book Award winner The Round House, was so spectacular that I didn’t think LaRose could come close to measuring up, and oh, how I was wrong. Erdrich’s mastery of language and character are evident in every word, but it is her gift of understanding the complexity of interconnectedness that stands out. No deed goes unmarked, whether it be a gift or a mistake, a prayer, or a betrayal. Erdrich dissolves the notion of ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’—she proves that each of us affects the other and that with that understanding, every choice is an act of endurance, toward completion, toward being, toward living. This will be a book you return to again and again.— S.M.C.
“When a hunting accident results in the death of his neighbor's son, Landreaux Iron follows native tradition and offers his own son, LaRose, to the bereaved family. Thus begins a powerful story of anger, love, hurt, and joy among a group of families and neighbors living in a small community in the North Dakota hinterland. Erdrich's luminous prose captures each character's struggle to overcome their worst impulses - whether it's a handicapped man's long-nurtured quest for revenge, or the pain of a mother withholding love from her daughter - and reaches into the distant past to reveal the story of the young boy's namesake, the original LaRose. Muted on the surface, but with a heart that beats strong, Erdrich's latest novel is a book to be treasured.”
— Peter Sherman (E), Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA
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.