Study Guide

Love Medicine Summary

By Louise Erdrich

Love Medicine Summary

The story hops around quite a bit from different time periods like a kangaroo stuck in a magic 80's phone booth, but we start out in 1981 following June Kashpaw's last day on earth. After meeting up with a stranger in a bar, hitting the town with him, and having an unsuccessful sexual encounter with said dude in his truck, she decides she's going to walk home to her family's place… even though it's night and there's a lot of snow on the ground. Dum dum dum.

The novel then picks up with Albertine Johnson, June's niece, who learns that June died that night. Albertine goes home to the Native American reservation where her family lives after her nursing courses for the year end, and there we start meeting some of the other players in the story, including Nector and Marie Kashpaw (Albertine's grandparents), Zelda (Albertine's mom), Aurelia (Albertine's aunt), Uncle Eli (Nector's brother/the guy who raised June), Gordie (June's husband), King (June's son), Lynette (King's wife), and King Junior (King's son, duh).

The story then starts hopping around to give us the back-story on all these people and their relationships. Beyond June's tragic story, we delve into the back-stories and love affairs of a wide range of people. In addition to the people already named, we meet Nector's parents and a woman named Lulu, who had had kids with several different men—including Nector.

Between the complexity of the family relationships going on here, rampant alcohol abuse, and other problems, there are heavy doses of heartache and drama here. However, you also get at least a couple of good love stories as well…

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