LaRose: A Novel
Native Americans are disappointingly underrepresented in literature; however Louise Erdrich once again gives voice to Native Americans in her newest novel LaRose. On an Ojibwe reservation in rural North Dakota, Landreaux Iron accidentally kills his five-year-old half-nephew while hunting. Distraught by his unintentional role in the boy’s death, Landreaux is determined to bring justice for grieving parents Peter and Nola. Landreaux pleads with his wife Emmaline, Nola’s half-sister, to abide by an old Ojibwe custom; by tradition, Landreaux and Emmaline offer their five-year-old son LaRose to Peter and Nola to love and to raise as their own. As both families grapple with this emotional arrangement, Erdrich braids the stories of a Catholic priest longing for the love of a married woman, a drug addict intent on avenging the man who cost him his happiness, and the Iron family’s ancestry.
Erdrich is a commanding storyteller. From its first pages, LaRose seizes readers with a devastating event; from there, Erdrich explores the repercussions of that event in a sensitive and inspiring way. Though the plot drags at times, LaRose is undeniably important as it conveys intense raw emotions, including heartbreak, anger, fear, bitterness, love, loneliness, and hope against the background of Native American culture, both past and present.