The Round House by Louise Erdrich

80%

69 Critic Reviews

Novelists who can create vivid, plausible, living characters are rare, but novelists who also can create a believable world and a compelling story for those characters are blessed. Louise Erdrich is blessed.
-Washington Times

Synopsis

The Round House won the National Book Award for fiction.

One of the most revered novelists of our time—a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life—Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.

Riveting and suspenseful, arguably the most accessible novel to date from the creator of Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, and The Bingo Palace, Erdrich’s The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction—at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.

 

About Louise Erdrich

See more books from this Author
Louise Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and is the author of many bestselling and critically acclaimed novels. She lives in Minnesota with her family, where she runs an independent bookstore, The Birchbark House. You can visit her online at www.readlouiseerdrich.com and www.birchbarkbooks.com.
 
Published October 2, 2012 by Harper. 368 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Dec 09 2012
icon13
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for The Round House
All: 69 | Positive: 59 | Negative: 10

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jul 16 2012

Through Joe’s narration, which is by turns raunchy and emotionally immediate, Erdrich perceptively chronicles the attack’s disastrous effect on the family’s domestic life, their community, and Joe’s own premature introduction to a violent world.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Oct 15 2012

It is Joe’s story that lies at the heart of this book, and Joe’s story that makes this flawed but powerful novel worth reading.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Maria Russo on Oct 12 2012

...you may find yourself, as I did, embracing the prospect of vigilante justice as regrettable but reasonable...It wasn’t until I put the book down that I recognized — and marveled at — the clever way I had been manipulated.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Natasha Tripney on Jun 08 2013

What begins as a tense and gripping mystery gradually evolves into something else as a murky mixture of legal and boundary issues makes prosecuting Joe's mother's attacker incredibly difficult.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Natasha Tripney on Jun 08 2013

What begins as a tense and gripping mystery gradually evolves into something else as a murky mixture of legal and boundary issues makes prosecuting Joe's mother's attacker incredibly difficult.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Laura Miller on May 17 2013

The symbolism is a shade heavy-handed, a fault that has been found with Erdrich's books in the past.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Oct 16 2012

Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House. It's her latest novel, and, I would argue, her best so far.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by JAMES CIHLAR on Sep 29 2012

An artfully balanced mystery, thriller and coming-of-age story, Louise Erdrich's "The Round House" is the gripping tale of the effects of violence on a family.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on Oct 12 2012

Like multitudinous notes in a symphony, Louise Erdrich orchestrates the nuances in Joe’s complex life. She gets into the mind of a teenage boy, and fondly reminds me of the goofiness I experienced at that age.

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Washington Times

Excellent
Reviewed by John Greenya on Nov 15 2012

Novelists who can create vivid, plausible, living characters are rare, but novelists who also can create a believable world and a compelling story for those characters are blessed. Louise Erdrich is blessed.

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Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by John Freeman on Nov 23 2012

No writer in the United States possesses the narrative intelligence Louise Erdrich does today.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by John Freeman on Nov 23 2012

No writer in the United States possesses the narrative intelligence Louise Erdrich does today.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Melissa Maerz on Sep 28 2012

It's a gripping mystery with a moral twist: Revenge might be the harshest punishment, but only for the victims.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg on Nov 22 2012

Joe often serves as an observational lens without much of a personal point of view...His unknowingness emphasizes how hard it is for the many elements of the story to hold together. The reader can watch them happen but may not be moved by them.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by James Kidd on May 12 2013

Joe is utterly believable, even if the torrent of despair that rains down upon him occasionally beggars belief...The Round House is an extraordinary, engrossing novel, which should live long in the memory.

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The Telegraph

Good
Reviewed by Andrew Marszal on Jun 15 2013

...Erdrich has achieved an impressive trick: a spellbinding read, an earnest message and fierce emotional punch.

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Christian Science Monitor

Good
Reviewed by Yvonne Zipp on Sep 20 2013

Readers don't need to read the earlier novel to follow the plot of “Round House” – Joe is an endearing guide and readers will want justice for his mom just as much as he does – but there is added richness for those who have.

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Carmela Ciuraru on Sep 30 2012

The Round House is filled with stunning language that recalls shades of Faulkner, Garcia Marquez and Toni Morrison. Deeply moving, this novel ranks among Erdrich's best work, and it is impossible to forget.

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The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by Jane Ciabattari on Oct 06 2012

Each new Erdrich novel adds new layers of pathos and comedy, earthiness and spiritual questing, to her priceless multigenerational drama. “The Round House’’ is one of her best — concentrated, suspenseful, and morally profound.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by David Robbins on Nov 15 2012

The Round House will endure because it is so remarkably heartfelt; Erdrich truly cares about the point she’s making. But Erdrich’s incredible works soar only when her characters roam, rise and fall by dint of their own vices, strengths and will, and are not tethered to a podium and a point.

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The Seattle Times

Above average
Reviewed by Richard Wakefield on Oct 11 2012

...Joe is sometimes a grim, vengeful warrior, sometimes an easily distracted child, and sometimes a Hardy boy caught up in solving a crime. He is also a poet who sees the world through the lens of his own experience and of his inheritance.

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Express

Above average
Reviewed by Charlotte Heathcote on May 26 2013

...the moving tale of a boy forced to grow up too soon and in the most painful way imaginable. However, as well as the central mystery of who committed the rape, other questions are answered almost as asides.

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Tampa Bay Times

Good
Reviewed by Colette Bancroft on Oct 28 2012

...it's a tale beautifully told, full of betrayal and tragedy, and also full of loyalty and love.

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About.com

Good
Reviewed by John Formy-Duval on Sep 20 2013

In her fourteenth novel, Erdrich has created a masterful weaving of a traditional crime mystery and the spiritual mysteries in one community of Native Americans.

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The Columbus Dispatch

Good
Reviewed by Margaret Quamme on Oct 07 2012

...both a riveting mystery and a moving coming-of-age story...

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Above average
Reviewed by James Bradley on Jun 29 2013

...it seems likely the novel's unsettlingly muted response to Joe's actions is intended as an answer in itself, a reminder of the complex ways in which past injustice continues to reverberate through the present, and of the tension between the human need for justice and the difficulties of achieving it.

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Scotsman.com

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on May 12 2013

It soon becomes clear that Erdrich wants to use this story to show how a tangle of laws can hinder prosecution of rape cases on many reservations, and in an afterword she thanks experts whom she consulted on these matters. Unfortunately, she is never able to dramatise these lessons fully or integrate them into her story.

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Post and Courier

Excellent
Reviewed by Catherine Holmes on Nov 11 2012

Funny, sacrificial Joe Coutts is among her most endearing characters, and “The Round House,” nominated for this year’s National Book Award, ranks with her best work.

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Chamber Four

Good
Reviewed by Sean Clark on Mar 12 2013

The book’s greatest strength is the skill with which Erdrich draws her characters. Joe and the other boys are genuinely funny and believable young teens; some of the local down-and-outs demand and deserve the reader’s empathy; the horny tribal elders are downright hilarious...

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Booklist Online

Good
on Sep 20 2013

In her intensely involving fourteenth novel, Erdrich writes with brio in the voice of a man reliving the fateful summer of his thirteenth year.

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Oprah.com

Good
Reviewed by Karen Holt on Sep 20 2013

In The Round House Louise Erdrich threads a gripping mystery and multilayered portrait of a community through a deeply affecting coming-of-age novel.

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Bookin With Sunny.

Excellent
Reviewed by Ann Ronald on May 03 2013

Louise Erdrich is one of the finest Native American writers of this gen­er­ation, and I would say that The Round House ranks with the very best of other such con­tem­porary novels. With believable char­acters, com­pli­cated themes, and pro­found obser­va­tions, it is both enjoyable and thought-​​provoking.

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BookDragon

Good
on Dec 17 2012

Like its teenage narrator, Round House moves urgently, rarely pausing for breath. Once begun, the story barrels toward the conclusion, shocking and reassuring both. Grab hold: don’t miss this phenomenal ride.

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Jackson District Library

Good
Reviewed by Tessa on Sep 20 2013

The book is not simply a great read, but one that challenges the reader to think, to evaluate, and to act. Louise Erdrich has written her rich Anishanaabe life for us all to share. I'm grateful. I loved it!

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More

Good
Reviewed by Pam Houston on Oct 01 2012

Like Erdrich’s other novels, The Round House gives us entrée into a whole new way of configuring reality and invites us to witness the particular warmth and tenacity of the Ojibwe women in the face of a tangled bureaucracy that lets them down again and again.

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BookTrust

Good
on Sep 20 2013

Part mystery, part coming-of-age, part clear-gazed examination of a community under attack from without and within, The Round House is an intense and emotional novel to be savoured.

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Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Joyce V. Harrison on Mar 27 2013

Readers can expect little tidbits of humor from the multitude of characters in Joe's circle. Perhaps the most memorable is Mooshum who lives with Joe's aunt and uncle and claims to be 112 years old.

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Luxury Reading

Good
Reviewed by Vera on Nov 12 2012

Erdrich mixes magical realism with actual realism of ‘rez’ life in the late 1980’s. She doesn’t sugar coat the legal struggles or the unending poverty that existed there. But she also shows how the integral parts of family, clan, and history influence how Joe filters his experiences on the reservation.

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That's What She Read

Good
Reviewed by Michelle on Dec 13 2012

The Round House is an excellent story, but more importantly, it forces readers to confront the injustices that the US policies towards/against Native Americans continue to create. In this season of taking stock of one’s blessings and helping others less fortunate, what could be better than that?

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http://skrishnasbooks.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Swapna Krishna on Jul 01 2013

Beautifully written and unexpected, with characters that will capture your attention from the very first page, The Round House deserves every bit of praise it’s received.

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Quick Book Reviews

Excellent
on Dec 01 2012

...this novel shows how the character’s worlds are in excruciating detail without holding back on the more shocking parts, and I praise it for giving me this breath of fresh air I've been longing for.

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Raging Biblioholism

Above average
on Jan 23 2013

The aforementioned Kennedy exercise in the novel comes when a character recollects being there, in Dallas, watching the parade...it might just be my still-English-major-trained mind, but that felt like the sort of section a professor expects you to reference when you come up with your thesis.

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Literary Exploration

Above average
Reviewed by MICHAEL KITTO on Jun 24 2013

For me the novel started off difficult, the violent nature of rape has that effect. I found it difficult to get started and that never really went away; I wanted the book to end or change perspective or do something to keep me reading but it never did.

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Book Chatter

Above average
Reviewed by Ti on Dec 11 2012

Although the pace of the story is a little slow, I was completely absorbed by the characters and never once doubted the realness of the story itself.

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Jen's Book Thoughts

Excellent
Reviewed by Jen Forbus on Dec 11 2012

Passionate prose, heartbreakingly realistic characters and an intimate understanding of the Native American cultures and experiences make The Round House a novel that will irreversibly alter the foundation of each of its readers.

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Bookmunch

Good
Reviewed by Lucille Turner on Jul 10 2013

Written from the sole perspective of the son of the victim, the prose allows us to feel the utter despair of a child confronted by parental suffering. When he sees that his father the judge cannot stop it, Joe’s reaction is a familiar all-American one. But it doesn’t end there.

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The Book Stop

Good
Reviewed by curlygeek04 on Jan 11 2013

...in the end, I have great admiration for the story that Erdrich has told. Some books you wrestle with long after you put them down, and this is one of them.

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The Mookse and the Gripes

Below average
on Dec 03 2012

Honestly...now that I’ve read it, I find myself questioning the judges. Full of potential, I found The Round House to be a bit of a mess.

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Take Me Away

Above average
Reviewed by Jenny on Dec 11 2012

I typically enjoy coming of age stories, and it might be that I had expected more plot focus on the issue with his mother that left me disappointed with this one. I can't help but feel, though, that the story meandered a little to where I became confused about the focus.

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Boston Bibliophile

Good
Reviewed by Marie on Oct 18 2012

The smoothness of Erdrich's prose belies the uncompromising toughness beneath the surface. I would encourage readers of literary fiction to pick it up but be ready for some difficult, emotional reading.

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Lovely Treez Reads

Above average
on May 03 2013

Admittedly the narrative has its meandering moments but stick with it and your attentive reading will be rewarded. Looking forward to catching up on many other gems from this author.

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TLC Book Tours

Excellent
on Oct 17 2012

Written with undeniable urgency, and illuminating the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together, The Round House is a brilliant and entertaining novel...

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West Metro Mommy

Above average
Reviewed by Melinda Ott on Oct 29 2012

Secondly, Erdrich does something stylistically that I can’t fault, but I don’t prefer. When she writes dialogue—and there is quite a bit of dialogue in this book—she doesn’t use quotation marks. Again, while there is nothing wrong with this, I think it makes it harder to read.

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Unabridged Chick

Good
Reviewed by Audra on Oct 22 2012

In some ways, this is a literary thriller, a poetic sort of crime novel (I'm recommending it to my Scandinavian crime fic loving friend, for I feel like there are thematic similarities) but even those who aren't drawn to crime fic might want to give this one a read.

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Literary Musings

Good
on Oct 02 2012

...I enjoyed that Erdich weaves details of the traditions and stories of Ojibwe culture into the narrative. In the novel ghost expose themselves and wendigos seek to possess humans. Erdich also emphasizes the tremendous support extended families provide for one another...

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A Common Reader

Excellent
on May 15 2013

I really can’t fault this book. It’s very well-written and has complex plotting with many inter-linking themes. I certainly closed the last page knowing far more about how Native Americans live while also having been entertained by a very wide-ranging and unusual cast of characters.

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Book Monkey

Good
on Jun 03 2013

The Round House is an incredible novel and I know that not everyone is as interested in the Native American culture as I am, but I would seriously urge you all to read it.

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Bookmagnet

Good
Reviewed by Jaime Boler on Oct 17 2012

The Round House illustrates how a senseless crime can forever change a town, a community, a family, and a young man. Lives are overturned, and relationships are altered.

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The Feminist Texican Reads

Excellent
Reviewed by Melissa on Nov 01 2012

...I couldn’t put this one down! It’s devastating and intense, and it highlights the very real (and prevalent) problem of sexual assaults against Native American women.

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In the Next Room

Good
Reviewed by Meghan on Nov 13 2012

Recommended to: people who love a good bildungsroman...anyone curious about legality/judicial issues on Native American land, fans of crime thrillers with unlikely detectives, lovers of familial epics focused around a young narrator...

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Me, You, and Books

Good
on Dec 21 2012

I strongly recommend Round House to all readers who enjoy fast-moving, beautifully written books, especially those interested in the writings of Indigenous people in various parts of the world.

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Chalk the Sun

Above average
Reviewed by Julie Christine on Nov 01 2012

Through their words I have developed a deeper understanding, love and compassion for my enormous and complex backyard.

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JeriWB Blog

Above average
on May 20 2013

All in all, The Round House is worth the read, though the slower pace and occasional tangents into Indian affairs can make the read less than thrilling, it always remains interesting.

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The Discarded Image

Good
Reviewed by Mindy Rice Withrow on Mar 31 2013

Erdrich understands that brilliant storytelling speaks to people in a way that news reports do not. Her characters call the readers of The Round House to experience this injustice and to respond, for the sake of women and families everywhere.

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Whirl Books

Good
Reviewed by Liz on Jan 25 2013

Should Your Book Club Read The Round House by Louise Erdrich? My answer to this question is yes. In fact, I think this is one of those books that is better read in a group than on one's own.

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Read All Day

Good
Reviewed by NINAMS on Nov 30 2012

The Round House is Erdrich as her very best, a masterful story teller who makes us question our beliefs (what we think is true about justice, government, faith, family) and confirm our choices (this is how legends are made): creation over destruction, love over hate, and endurance over all.

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Conceptual Reception

Good
Reviewed by Karen on Nov 06 2012

"The Round House" is certainly literary but also qualifies as an intense mystery/thriller. Despite its length, the plot's rapid-fire pace makes it a rather quick read...

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The Literateur

Good
Reviewed by Robyn Drury on May 21 2013

This anecdote is rich. It speaks first to the complex idea of identity in constant evolution, reshaping its limits but with an eye always turned towards the past.

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sheridegrom

Good
Reviewed by sheridegrom on Apr 18 2013

I unconditionally recommend The Round House for anyone looking for a read that’s not only well-written but portrays the accuracy of life on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota in 1988.

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Reader Rating for The Round House
78%

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Terri McGinty 23 May 2013

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

Karen Russo

Karen Russo 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

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Kristine Keller 5 Sep 2013

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