The Night Watchman

Louise Erdrich

Book cover

I had been meaning to read something by Louise Erdrich for quite a while, and the timing just worked out for me to check out her new book. (The last one I got in physical form from the public library before it closed!) I’m so glad I did, because I loved this book. As I alluded to above, it was one of the first books I read after COVID lockdown had started in earnest. I knew from the beginning that it was a book with a happy ending (at least of a sort), because it is based on Erdrich’s own grandfather’s life, and his ultimately successful fight to keep Congress from “terminating” his Chippewa band (along with many other Native tribes) in the 1950s. So I felt like it was a good book to read during an uncertain and scary time.

By far the best part of this for me was Erdrich’s characters. The two protagonists, Thomas and Patrice, are both so good and lovable, but also different from each other, and complex. There are wonderful supporting characters too, like Wood Mountain and Juggie Blue, who reminded me of my own dear and tough grandmother. Erdrich creates a lot of vivid imagery (the Waterjack) but mostly stays within a realist style, with only a couple of mystical things thrown in almost as side notes.

The real story behind the novel is a great one, and the heroes of it deserve to be remembered.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars