I have not read a lot of literature involving Native Americans and culture, but I did find Love Medicine and decided to read it. Published in 1984, Love Medicine tells the story of a group of Chippewa living on a reservation in North Dakota. Erdrich chronicles 60 years of the lives of these people.
She opens her novel with the passing of June Morrissey who freezes to death in a snow storm trying to get back to her family. The novel continues in a very conversational way, introducing us to various members of the family and reservation which is reminiscent of Native American culture wherein stories were spoken, not written. Erdrich richly paints the trials and difficulties of living on a reservation, revealing the alcoholism and abusive relationships that plague many of the people that live there.
With younger generations, Erdrich explores what it’s like to be an Euro-Indian, wherein the unfairness and often clear resentment of the US government is evident and explored.
What I found difficult of the book was keeping the relationships of the characters in order. There are many affairs and surprises of paternity that occur throughout the book, often times the characters themselves not even being aware of their true parental lineage. I had difficulty keeping it all straight, especially when trying to understand where alliances stood and why.
Book Information: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich was originally published in 1984 with a revised edition having been released in May of 2009 by Harper Perennial with ISBN 978-0061787423.