The Round House by Louise Erdich won the 2012 National Book Award for Fiction. This story is told through the eyes of 13-year-old Joe, an Ojibwe living on a reservation in North Dakota, well-loved and cared for by his tribal judge father and his court clerk mother. His secure world is turned upside-down after a brutal attack on his mother near the ceremonial Round House on the reservation, which leaves her fearful, depressed and withdrawn. As Joe’s father tries to protect him from the harsh realities of the attack, Joe feels no one is working for justice for his mother and he and his friends Zack, Cappy and Angus decide to investigate the crime themselves. Their search for justice brings them into contact with many diverse characters on the reservation and their search also forces Joe to recognize the intricacy and injustice that exists in the legal system on the reservation–a maze of local, state, federal and tribal jurisdictions. He is faced with a difficult choice–take justice into his own hands in order to help his mother recover from her fears resulting from the attack, or trust the various systems to bring the attacker to justice.
This is a haunting and powerful story, with memorable, well-drawn and interesting characters — rich and vividly drawn , with each facing different challenges of living life on the reservation. The story raises questions about right and wrong, and the meaning of justice–a tale that won’t soon be forgotten.