In my opinion, this book didn’t really deserve all the hype it received. However, Ree Dolly is a memorable protagonist and what she has to go through to protect her family without ratting on anyone else is pretty close to amazing. Ree’s father Jessup has skipped bail. Unfortunately no one can find him and if he does not show up for his court date, the Dolly family will lose their home. 16 year-old Ree knows the task to find her father dead or alive falls on her shoulders if her, her mother, and her two young brothers want a chance to survive.
While reading Winter’s Bone, I actually forgot what approximate time period this book took place. It is obviously set in present day, but the Dolly’s are so poverty stricken, what they have to do to do simple everyday tasks seems to put them about a century behind. Their way of life reminded me of Little House on the Prairie in the 21th Century minus the family values and plus a father in trouble for making “crank” (crystal meth). Ree, the narrator, has a rough Ozark Mountain way of speaking which I think Woodrell conveys pretty well. It drew me into the story and helped me see the grimness of her situation a little more. The dialogue is definitely what I liked most about this book. I usually dislike colloquial dialogue but if it wasn’t present in Winter’s Bone, I don’t think I would have gotten into the book. It kind of enhanced the grittiness of the story for me. Her life was certainly not all sunshine and rainbows, and her use of the English language showed that roughness. Like Charles Portis’ character Mattie Ross in True Grit, or Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series, Ree Dolly is a tough young girl on a tough quest that someone twice her age would have a high chance of failure. Although I didn’t really think this book should have received all the rave reviews it did, I did lose myself in Ree’s world down in the Ozark Mountains and it certainly made me appreciate my clean bed in central Missouri.