1 May 2016


Late summer in North Dakota, 1999: Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence but only when he staggers closer does he realise he has killed his neighbour's son. 

Dusty Ravich, the deceased boy, was best friends with Landreaux's five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have been close for years and their children played together despite going to different schools. Landreaux is horrified at what he's done; fighting off his longstanding alcoholism, he ensconces himself in a sweat lodge and prays for guidance. And there he discovers an old way of delivering justice for the wrong he's done. The next day he and his wife Emmaline deliver LaRose to the bereaved Ravich parents. Standing on the threshold of the Ravich home, they say, 'Our son will be your son now'.

LaRose is quickly absorbed into his new family. Gradually he's allowed visits with his birth family, whose grief for the son and brother they gave away mirrors that of the Raviches. The years pass and LaRose becomes the linchpin that links both families. As the Irons and the Raviches grow ever more entwined, their pain begins to subside. But when a man who nurses a grudge against Landreaux fixates on the idea that there was a cover-up the day Landreaux killed Dusty - and decides to expose this secret - he threatens the fragile peace between the two families.


I loved this book so much.  It was a really absorbing but delicate human story and I kind of feel like it sneaked up on me in the way that even though it was a simple plot, it develops into a deeply affecting story. I got so involved in the lives of the characters and really cared about what would happen to them.  The story flows really nicely between past and present, offering an insight into the family histories and personal connections of the characters, which are interesting as well as moving.  I appreciated the insight into Ojibwe traditions and history and I thought the concept was fascinating.

The main thing that struck me about this book was the writing. There are some beautiful descriptions, and I thought Louise Erdrich captured the humanity and experiences of her characters perfectly.  I would go as far as to say her characters are some of the most authentically human I've ever read.  The story is told without the use of speech marks although the characters do speak to one another, which for me gave it a hushed atmosphere, as though it was being told to me in whispers, and was very powerful.  LaRose is a book to read slowly and savour, and its well worth the time.

* I received a copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts are my own. 

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