Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone - Daniel Woodrell 4.5 stars
I love it when I read a book or watch a movie and I discover a new and unique world or community that I was never familiar with before. Daniel Woodrell writes about the tight knit communities in the Missouri Ozark Mountains. I'm almost totally unfamiliar with small American towns like this, having grown up in the Caribbean, and spent all of my adult life in major cities. So I found Woodrell's world fascinating: this community of people in which your last name is more important than your first, and is destined to effect everything about your life before you can even grow up to understand. It's a place with their own rules so deeply entrenched for so long that it goes beyond the reach of most government law.

This novel follows Ree Dolly, a poor 16-year old girl who has quit school to take care of her sick mother and her two little brothers now that her crank-cook father is M.I.A. But now she must track him down after he fails to show up in court and the law comes knocking, threatening to take their house, because her dad put the house up for his bond.

This is a stark, immersive book, and even though Woodrell is sometimes prone to some pretty purple prose, his writing is gorgeous and evocative, really giving you a sense of place. I could almost feel the cold of the winter landscape in which the story takes place. Woodrell is a writer I would dare to compare to Cormac McCarthy with the way he has with words and how well he's able to evoke a sense of place.

Some may be tempted to call this book a coming-of-age story, but I disagree. Ree has already come-of-age, and too early, becoming more of an adult than I am even now. Her hope is that she can teach her little brothers in a way that they can grow up to be something more than the destiny the town gives them and that she can escape it herself by joining the Army. Ree is at times both strong and vulnerable, incredibly courageous while we get glimpses of the child hiding inside. She is an amazing young heroine right up there at the top of the literary list with [b:True Grit|15816419|True Grit|Charles Portis||1320617]'s Mattie Ross.
“She would never cry where her tears might be seen and counted against her.”