Published in 2008, Louise Erdrich's The Plague of Doves is a novel built of interconnected stories told by different narrators about the lives of the Ojibwe and whites who live on and near a reservation in North Dakota. Running through the novel and all the lives in it is the senseless and unsolved murder of all but one member of a white farm family in the early 1900s.
Each of the intertwined stories could stand on its own, but together they stand as a compelling reminder of the often unseen connections that bind us to people we've never met. These are stories of the devastating results of prejudices and rushes to judgment. They are stories of quests for redemption, of the search for compassion, of sacrifices made in protection of others. They are stories of consequences from long-forgotten acts that echo across generations. They are stories, in other words, about all life's big stuff and they are played out in the tiny, rural lives of Erdrich's well-drawn characters.
This not only a novel about big themes, though, it is also a compulsively readable murder mystery, with clues sprinkled throughout the individual stories. When I finally arrived at the last page, I read the ending with an equal sense of satisfaction and surprise.
This is not the first time I've walked away from an Erdrich novel completely in awe and I can't imagine it will be the last.
Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Fantastic.
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