The characters of Daniel Woodrell’s story are a rare breed. The harsh poverty ridden mountains of the Ozarks form the backdrop for the story of families and neighbors being caught up in the circle of drugs and secrets. Exposing the dark secrets of the residents of this counterculture can mean death.
Ree is caught between losing her home to the bondsman or giving up her father when he runs from a court appearance. As she searches, she meets with the cruel and unforgiving nature of the rural drug trade. Surrounded by a clan that “protects its own” at any cost, Ree has to think about the welfare of her brothers as well as herself.
The strength that Ree finds in herself and the cold hostility that she faces within her own people is unforgettable. I find that I am amazed at this young girl long after I had finished the novel. She is the kind of character that stays with a reader. Being a thirty year member of the Daughtery clan myself, I understand the clannish nature of the Dolly family. My husband’s family hail from Eastern Kentucky mountain area and I see reflections of ourselves in the strength and loyalty of these people.
If you do not expect the fast pace thriller or a nice romantic ending then you will not be disappointed. Winter’s Bone is a hard look at reality and adds no sugar-coating for the pleasure of the reader. It tackles controversal issues with drugs and families and gives no pat answers to the reasons people do what they do in the name of ‘making a living.’ It is a book I will remember but no one that I would suggest for every reader.