Maybe my expectations for this book were too high. I love Louise Erdrich. As in, LOVE Louise Erdrich.
But I didn't love this book. There were parts I liked a lot, and there were memorable characters (as always with her books), and passages of writing that I sighed blissfully over. But I felt the main story kind of disappeared into various alleys and digressions that were more or less related to the main story. It's not that Erdrich hasn't done this sort of thing before, but here, I found myself becoming impatient time and again and wishing she'd have focused more on the main story.
Because, what a main story. This is no spoiler--it's on the jacket and the book opens with it--a man is out hunting and accidentally shoots and kills his neighbor's five-year-old son. Drawing on ancient Ojibwe practices, he gives his own young son to the family of the boy he shot. Obviously this will have deep ramifications for everyone in both families, and for the community itself.
But often, Erdrich chooses to spend more time in the community, including several passages regarding the local priest, which ultimately dilute the power of the main narrative, slow it down, distract from it. The book itself isn't overly long, just under 400 pages. But I wish the 400 pages had focused more on the two families. I won't spoil the ending, but I felt it wasn't earned.
Still. I will happily--if somewhat more cautiously--wait for her next book.