December 29th, 2012


Book Review: Winter's Bone, by Daniel Woodrell

The toughest girl since Maddie Ross makes Katniss Everdeen seem like a Photoshopped poseur.

Winter's Bone

Little, Brown & Company, 2006, 208 pages

The sheriff's deputy at the front door brings hard news to Ree Dolly. Her father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn't show up for his next court date.

Ree's father has disappeared before. The Dolly clan has worked the shadowy side of the law for generations, and arrests (and attempts to avoid them) are part of life in Rathlin Valley. With two young brothers depending on her and a mother who's entered a kind of second childhood, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. She has grown up in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks and learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But along the way to a shocking revelation, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.

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Verdict: Winter's Bone is too proud to wear the label YA, but just as Cormac McCarthy makes grimdark fantasy shit in its pants, Daniel Woodrell delivers everything that fans of so-called dystopian fiction should be able to appreciate: a tough, resourceful but human protagonist, outgunned in a deadly, gritty environment trying to save her family. But sorry, no hot boys.

My complete list of book reviews.