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Harper BarnesSometimes brutal, sometimes mordantly funny, sometimes surprisingly sweet . . .I just didn't want WINTER'S BONE to end.
— St. Louis Post Dispatch
Ree Dolly's 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. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network ...
Ree Dolly's 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. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.
Snow clouds had replaced the horizon, capped the valley darkly, and chafing wind blew so the hung meat twirled from jigging branches. Ree, brunette and sixteen, with milk skin and abrupt green eyes, stood bare-armed in a fluttering yellowed dress, face to the wind, her cheeks reddening as if smacked and smacked again. She stood tall in combat boots, scarce at the waist but plenty through the arms and shoulders, a body made for loping after needs. She smelled the frosty wet in the looming clouds, thought of her shadowed kitchen and lean cupboard, looked to the scant woodpile, shuddered. The coming weather meant wash hung outside would freeze into planks, so she'd have to stretch clothesline across the kitchenabove the woodstove, and the puny stack of wood split for the potbelly would not last long enough to dry much except Mom's underthings and maybe a few T-shirts for the boys. Ree knew there was no gas for the chain saw, so she'd be swinging the ax out back while winter blew into the valley and fell around her.
Jessup, her father, had not set by a fat woodpile nor split what there was for the potbelly before he went down the steep yard to his blue Capri and bounced away on the rut road. He had not set food by nor money, but promised he'd be back soon as he could with a paper sack of cash and a trunkload of delights. Jessup was a broken-faced, furtive man given to uttering quick pleading promises that made it easier for him to walk out the door and be gone, or come back inside and be forgiven.
Walnuts were still falling when Ree saw him last. Walnuts were thumping to ground in the night like stalking footsteps of some large thing that never quite came into view, and Jessup had paced on this porch in a worried slouch, dented nose snuffling, lantern jaw smoked by beard, eyes uncertain and alarmed by each walnut thump. The darkness and those thumps out in the darkness seemed to keep him jumpy. He paced until a decision popped into his head, then started down the steps, going fast into the night before his mind could change. He said, "Start lookin' for me soon as you see my face. 'Til then, don't even wonder."
She heard the door behind her squeak and Harold, age eight, dark and slight, stood in pale long johns, holding the knob, fidgeting from foot to foot. He raised his chin, gestured toward the meat trees across the creek.
"Maybe tonight Blond Milton'll bring us by one to eat."
"That could be."
"Don't kin ought to?"
"That's what is always said."
"Could be we should ask."
She looked at Harold, with his easy smile, black hair riffling in the wind, then snatched his nearest ear and twisted until his jaw fell loose and he raised his hand to swat at hers. She twisted until he bore up under the pain and stopped swatting.
"Never. Never ask for what ought to be offered."
"I'm cold," he said. He rubbed his smarting ear. "Is grits all we got?"
"Butter 'em more. There's still a tat of butter."
He held the door and they both stepped inside.
"No, there ain't."
Excerpted from Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell Copyright © 2006 by Daniel Woodrell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 12, 2010
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Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell is the first book since Minette Walters' The Shape of Snakes that genuinely took my breath away. On the surface there is absolutely nothing pretty about the world in which 16-year-old Ree Dolly lives. The people of her community in the backwoods of the Ozark mountains are multiple generations into an existence of poverty, violence and drug addiction; a place where the primary source of income has evolved from making moonshine to cooking crank.
Fortunately for Ree her father, Jessup, is in demand as a crank chef, "practically half famous for it." Unfortunately for her and the two younger brothers and mentally ill mother she's struggling to keep fed and functioning, Jessup has gone missing after being released on bond, a bond secured by signing over the family home as collateral, following his most recent arrest. Unwilling to see her family split up if they lose the family's meager homestead, Ree sets out to find Jessup and make him keep his court date.
Not only is Jessup nowhere to be found, however, but none of the locals, many of them extended members of the Dolly family, seem inclined to help Ree with her search. In fact, they are downright hostile to her inquiries and seemingly determined to derail her efforts, even by means of violence if necessary. Yet, Ree persists. And throughout it all Woodrell offers glimpses of the hidden beauty lurking beneath the surface of the stark environment, and conveys in no uncertain terms that the people who inhabit it have a deep sense of honor, pride and purpose, just ones that don't necessarily mesh with what most consider normal.
Winter's Bone is quite possibly the most 'perfect' novel I've ever experienced. And I do mean experienced, because Winter's Bone is not something that one merely reads. Woodrell demands the reader become fully immersed in the world he's created, taking you along step-for-step with Ree on her journey. And what unfolds over the course of Woodrell's taut 200 page story is a testament to the human spirit. No word is wasted, and the look at Ree's life that is presented is unflinching. Winter's Bone is a book that you not so much 'enjoy' as you do appreciate, and you will. Deeply.
14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 1, 2006
Winter's Bone, Daniel Woodrell's latest Ozarks-centered novel, is a modern-day adventure-quest story about Ree Dolly, a 16-year-old young woman who cares for her feeble-minded mother and her younger brothers while battling to save the family homestead after her father disappears. In Winter's Bone, yesterday's Ozark moonshiners are todays meth cooks, and Woodrell gives a slap-in-the-face stare at their lives. Many of the characters in the book are rough and unlikable. It's chilling to think that there exists in Missouri (where I live) an undercurrent of society depicted in Winter's Bone, yet I'm certain there is. Woodrell's writing is at times breathtaking, and always clear and concise. Winter's Bones is a book I will remember for its sense of place and for the characters Woodrell has painted so vividly with his words. And, although Winter's Bone isn't the most flattering book about the Ozarks and some of its inhabitants, it is a memorable story that's hard to put down. Like the Ozarks' winter depicted in Woodrell's novel, Winter's Bone is stark, intense, and at times beautiful.
10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 16, 2009
I thought this book was great! So true yet so sad. It's hard to believe that people really live like this in this day and age but they really do. It was a sad and disturbing story line made all the more sad because it really happens this way today. It ends well but still very sad for Ree. I would love to see another book to take up where this one leaves off so we can keep up with Ree and Gail. My daughter is in the movie version on this book that is being filmed now! Can't wait to see how it does, everyone HAS to go see it! This is a great read but know that it isn't necessarily uplifting, but very thought provoking.
6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 15, 2011
Having read the few negative reviews here, I have to ask myself what kind of true lover of literature could have "hated" this book and deemed it "no good". Each and every word Daniel Woodruff wrote felt like a deliberate and carefully chosen step, guiding the reader on a journey into a desperate culture that is bleak, yet rich and starkly beautiful. His writing is as succinct as his characters are taciturn, both dialog and narrative display the economy of great poetry. I was caught from the first paragraph by the beautifully wrought imagery, and deliberately slowed my reading pace to experience every nuance of this book. I am an avid reader, I couldn't begin to count the books I've read across every genre, and for me, this is one of the greatest books I have ever read.....as nearly perfect as a piece of literature can be.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 13, 2010
Posted August 12, 2011
Posted November 13, 2006
'Winter's Bone' has been selected as the 2007 Read MOre selection. Annually, librarians, booksellers, and others across Missouri encourage patrons to read the novel and discuss it as a part of the state's book club initiative. Enjoy!
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Posted March 2, 2013
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Posted November 6, 2012
It was a good story line, but I found myself reading paragraphs over and over again to understand what was going on. As another viewer mentioned, I was a little disappointed in the ending...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 5, 2012
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Posted May 29, 2012
I havent read this book yet. I want too though. Look carefully at the cover. Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Katniss in the Hunger Games stars in the movie Winters bone
0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 29, 2012
I have to say this is quite a read...Describes in detail the life of the Ozarks and how scary things can be in the isolated world of cooking crank and inbred relationships. Don't go looking unless you want to find the answer...This is a tale of courage, caring, and survival...Daniel Woodrell tells the story in a fascinating and detailed fashion..Well worth the time. Be ready to shake and have your eyes opened wide!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 25, 2012
Posted February 20, 2012
It is such an awesome book. I loved reading about a place that was so copletely different from what I know. I remember when my nook died and I was freaking out to charge it so I could keep reading it.
The only thing is that the book is a little hard to understand, but once you re-read it it is totally worth it.
P.S. the movie rocks too!!!!!
Posted January 29, 2012
This beautifully haunting, fast paced drama about a family struggling to survive will stick with me for a long time to come.
The story revolves around Ree, a teenage girl who is struggling to give her younger siblings a normal life. Life is hard, but it gets harder when the sheriff shows up at Ree's door to tell her that her family is in danger of losing their house. It seems that Ree's father put it up for bond when he was arrested and then skipped out on his bail. This book is like "Where the Lillies Bloom" with a hard, modern edge.
The writing was some of the best I've come across in a long time, and it carries with it a profound sense of place. Although the adult themes are sensitive, the sense of family and kinship keeps the book from becoming too gritty. The relationship between Ree and her childhood friend was also wonderfully developed.
My one regret is that the main character did not choose the path I'd hoped she would. I understood Ree's need to protect her family; however, I believe she could have made a better decision. Also, at the crucial moment in the story, she was far more passive than I wanted her to be. I almost had the feeling that she was succumbing to her fate rather than take her future into her own hands.
Winter's Bone is a beautiful novel about family and the struggle to survive. I highly recommend it.
Posted December 31, 2011