Review: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

March 8, 2018
Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Harper Perennial Modern Classic on August 2, 2005 (first published 1984)
Format Read:  Paperback Edition (367pages)
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Contemporary/ Adult
Series: Stand Alone
Source:  Boston Intersectional Feminist Book Club Pick
Love Medicine
Set on and around a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation, Love Medicine—the first novel by bestselling, National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich—is the epic story about the intertwined fates of two families: the Kashpaws and the Lamartines.

With astonishing virtuosity, each chapter draws on a range of voices to limn its tales. Black humor mingles with magic, injustice bleeds into betrayal, and through it all, bonds of love and family marry the elements into a tightly woven whole that pulses with the drama of life.

Filled with humor, magic, injustice and betrayal, Erdrich blends family love and loyalty in a stunning work of dramatic fiction.


Content Warning:
 Rape, Mental Illness and Substance Abuse


This is a memorable family saga that depicts the many hardships Native American Families have faced. This novel follows the Kapshaw and Nanapush families over from the 1930's to the 1980's. Nector Kapshaw binds two families together because he maintains an affair with a woman while married. Both women love him despite of it. This book describes the family drama, tragedy and alcoholism that afflicts members of the family. Each character shared a unique and engaging glimpse into their lives. The character development was phenomenal and interspersed with vivid imagery and prose.
"Rushes Bear always said that a man has to enter and enter, repeatedly, as if in punishment for having ever left the woman's body."
Despite the heartbreaking experiences characters face their reverence to nature and distrust of white people was well founded. The women in this book are not passive observers to the addiction and infidelity around them. They hold their families together, acknowledging the bad but still finding ways to love and care for the family around them. Since there is rampant infidelity many of the families on the reservation are loosely related.The reservation itself is a community that relies on each other.
What aggravates them is I've never shed one solitary tear. I'm not sorry. That's unnatural. As we all know, a woman is supposed to cry.
The Native Americans beliefs and traditions were well described.I'm excited to read more books from this author in the future to learn more about the Native American way of life. It's important to remember the issues that continue to plague Native American reservations. This story enabled me to engage with the realities of poverty and frequent alcoholism in a memorable way. I was frequently emotional over what was being described, but I happily ravished this book. The writing was lyrical thought provoking and amazing overall.

Recommended For Readers:
-who enjoy family sagas
-who want to learn more about Native American Communities
-who enjoy emotionally charged contemporaries


Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.

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