LaRose: quiet and surprising all at once

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

3 words: somber, interwoven, lyrical

This is one of those books where you hear the premise and you go, “Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?”

Here’s the premise: a man accidentally kills his neighbor’s young son while deer hunting, so he gives his own child to the neighbor to balance things out.

The hunter is Ojibwe, and this is an old tradition that he’s honoring, in order to repay his debt. A very old tradition, carried out in the current day.

I gotta say: I had to suspend my disbelief that anyone would do this. But then I thought: everyone else is not me.

And while the giving of the child is at the heart of the book, the story expands to encompass the lives of both families — with a focus on the two marriages and the teenage girls in each family — and the priest on the reservation, and a retired teacher, and a ne’er-do-well who’s stealing medication from the older folks.

There’s all kinds of drama coursing through this book, but even so, the book is quiet.

Maybe this came through extra much because I listened to the audiobook, which is read in lovely fashion by the author. She keeps the story sedate, even as people make choices that are fairly eye-popping.


Give this book a whirl if you like… stories of complicated family situations, reading about contemporary Native American life, mild doses of magical realism, and exploring the effects of long-held traditions


I know it happens to us all…  What’s the most recent book that made you suspend your disbelief?

4 thoughts on “LaRose: quiet and surprising all at once

  1. This story sounds interesting.

    It seems that giving up a child in this way may have involved some hidden motives. With such motives I think that some people would do such a thing. I have no idea if this fits into the story in any way.

    Wth that, though I can suspend disbelief in a lot of things, unbelievable motives tend to ruin a book for me.

    • Agreed! If I can’t believe a character’s reasons for their actions, it makes the whole thing fall apart. In this book, I could believe their actions, I just couldn’t imagine taking those actions myself… which made the book pretty fascinating.

    • The audio is really good! My only negative comment: Erdrich’s voice is in a register that makes it hard to hear when there’s road noise. My car, which I adore for many reasons, sure allows a lot of tire noise to reach my ears — which meant that I really had to crank up the volume on the audiobook.

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