Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Love Medicine is Louise Erdrich’s first novel, published in 1984. Each chapter is narrated by a different character. These narratives are very conversational, as if the narrators were telling a story, often from the first-person perspective. There are, however, five chapters that are told from a limited third-person perspective. The narratives follow a loose chronology aside from the first chapter (set in 1981). The tone of the novel is very conversational and indicative of the storytelling tradition in Native American culture. It draws from Ojibwa myths, story-telling technique and culture. However, it also incorporates the Euro-Indian experience especially through the younger generations who have been forced by government policy to accept, if not possess, Euro-American culture. Love Medicine begins with June Morrisey freezing to death on her way home to the reservation. Although she dies at the beginning, June holds the novel together. Likewise, a love triangle among Lulu, Marie, and Nector also is a fixture between the narratives even though it is not a constant theme in the novel. A homecoming (or homing) theme is very important to this novel as well as other Native American literature. There are many themes contained in the stories in Love Medicine. In fact, this adds to the storytelling effect of her fiction: the multiple interpretations offered to the reader makes it that much more personal. Some other themes include: tricksters (in the Native American tradition), abandonment, connection to land, searching for identity and self-knowledge, and survival.