Yet another recommendation came to me from my good friend Nate. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich is a story about family, about Native American life on the reservation, about accepting those aspects of life we can't change and shouldering on through.
The book is structured more as a series interconnected of short stories rather than a novel with a small number of viewpoints. Many different characters get their point-of-view story throughout, and we see a broad swath of history through the lives of a couple different Chippewa families living in North Dakota.
A large part of the book centers on a love triangle between the characters Marie, Nector and Lulu. We see these characters from their teenage years falling in love, through to life in a retirement home, with all the difficultly and strife between. Along the way Erdrich gives us glimpses many other branches and tributaries of these Chippewa families, building for the reader a strong sense of the broader reservation community.
Erdrich's prose is incredibly lush and descriptive. Reading a bit about her, I wasn't surprised to find her background is in poetry. There is a lyrical sense to the book that verges on poetic. It is also a very conversational, hearkening back to the oral storytelling of Native American culture. That richness of imagery often contrasts with the world she's describing--the bleak, forsaken backwaters of North Dakota that the Chippewa are increasingly forced to by the government, away from their remembered homelands.
Yet again, I wouldn't have typically picked this book up on my own, but I'm extremely glad to have read it. Erdrich's going on my "to-read-all-of" list for sure.