Wednesday, July 19, 2017

LAROSE by Louise Erdrich

When Landreaux Iron accidentally shoots and kills a neighbor’s 5-year-old son, he gives his own son, LaRose, to the bereaved family.  This action may seem extreme, but from the Native American perspective of the Iron family, it’s the right thing to do.  Now both families are grieving the loss of a son, and LaRose himself is devastated as the innocent pawn in these tragic circumstances.  At first I felt that nothing good could come of his arrangement.  However, Nola Ravich, the dead boy’s mother, eventually embraces LaRose as her own, often at the expense of her difficult daughter, Maggie.  LaRose is the hinge that joins the two families together and comes to serve as almost a guardian angel.  This role is a pretty tall order for such a young boy, but he is obviously far from ordinary.  The book also has a couple of side stories, including sparse snippets from about four generations ago that really did not hold my attention very well.  More compelling is the story of Romeo, who attended boarding school with Landreaux as a child and whose son Hollis is now being raised as a member of Landreaux’s family—another boy whose father has given him away, if you will.  The beginning of this novel is intense, and the last quarter of the book is very satisfying.  However, the middle part drags, as the struggles of the Iron and Ravich families intensify, until two big events occur—one involving Romeo and his plan for revenge and one involving parents misbehaving at a high school volleyball match.  The book also has some occasional elements of magical realism, accentuating the Native American beliefs, but somehow seeming a little superfluous rather than applicable to the plot or the character development.

No comments: