Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Xolo Score 5/5
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich is a series of magically haunting family portraits with more drama than a Mexican telenovela. These short, interconnected stories follow two
Chippewa families in North Dakota – the Kashpaws and the Lamartines. And members of the two families are connected by a complex history of romance, triumph, and trauma. Through these short stories, Erdrich invites us to enjoy a non-linear novel that exposes the interwovenness of family bonds.
We become familiar with the Kashpaws and Lamartines, who are both Ojibwe and live on a fictional reservation. Every character's story is written with dark humor and nuance to thoroughly tell these characters' traumas and triumphs. The reader is clear that because these characters are Ojibwe, they endure so much but their resilience and commitment to thrive on their terms shines through.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***
In particular, Marie and Lulu, the matriarchs of their respective families, stood out in their insistence on living their complex lives on their terms. They continuously disregarded anything they felt was prescribed or preordained. Their stubbornness was resistance. And though Marie and Lulu were at odds with each other at times, they still resisted their community's desire to pin them against each other and instead formed a bond of respect.
In addition to such wonderfully complex characters, Erdrich also challenges the reader with the non-traditional structure of the novel. The story's timeline jumps back and forth as a form of structured chaos that, at times, can be confusing. And you'll need to have handy the family tree at the beginning of the book to remember familial relationships. But Erdrich evokes excellent power with her narrative structure. As well as showcases deep authenticity for her characters by depicting their lives as messy, volatile, and vulnerable.
Love Medicine is a time fluid multi-generational saga that captivates chaotic and powerful familial love.