“This is how sudden things happened that haunted forever.”
Equal parts poetic and stark, Winter’s Bone is a short and compelling read. It follows sixteen-year old Ree Dolly who, after her father skips his bail, risks losing her home.
“Fading light buttered the ridges until shadows licked them clean and they were lost to nightfall.”
Ree’s life is far from easy: not only does she live in an incredibly bleak and desolated area but she also has to take care of her two younger brothers and her heavily medicated mother. It is made soon apparent that above all else, Ree is a survivor. Still, things go from bad to worse, when she starts looking for her father in her family network.
Woodrell does not shy away from describing the harrowing conditions and treatment Ree receives. Despite this, it is not all gloom and doom. He also offers brief glimpses of hope, such as the touching friendship between Ree and her best friend, or Ree’s interactions Uncle Teardrop.
Woodrell’s realistic portrayal of such a harsh community paints frightfully convincing scenes and interaction; his characters offer many shades of gray: they are all – regardless of their roles – equally believable in that they are far more than ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Ree, for obvious reasons, was the character who shines the most: she was both tough and surprisingly witty. I really did ‘feel‘ for her, especially given the situation she is.
“She would never cry where her tears might be seen and counted against her.”
The writing itself is something perfectly fits the story and its setting: Woodrell’s prose offers multitude of beautiful metaphors and similitudes. He does not tell us how Ree feels, he shows us.
I could best describe this as being a lyrical portrayal of an especially brutal place.
“The heart’s in it then, spinning dreams, and torment is on the way. The heart makes dreams seem like ideas.”
My rating: 4 of 5 stars