Tuesday, October 3, 2006
In Them Thar Hills
Last year, Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell was one of my favorite books. It came highly recommended by Himself (he knows who he is). Himself was pleased to know that this slim little volume was named a Best Book for Young Adults in January.
Ree Dolly knows her father would never snitch, skip a court date nor jeopardize his family. When Jessup Dolly seemingly jumps bail and neglects to show up in court, Ree knows without a doubt that he's dead. However, Ree's word isn't good enough for the sheriff, the bailbondsman, the court or the local ring of modern moonshiners. She will have to supply the proof herself or the ramshackle family home, sitting on valuable timberland, will be forfeited to the bondsman. Ree's determined search for her father brings her to the homes of dangerous men and sinister women--her relatives. No one will tell Ree where her father is, and Ree is severely threatened for asking. The friendship of her childhood friend, Gail, and the protection of her Uncle Teardrop, keep Ree under control and among the living. Nonetheless, only Ree has the power and tenacity to find her father--dead or alive.
The strong, sympathetic characters move through this frightening and compelling story with affection coupled with violence. Readers will turn pages quickly and devour the small restful pockets of description of a land and people as cold as the season. Woodrell's hallmark is his lyrical and bleak prose surrounding the singular dialect of the Ozarks. Fans of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, True Grit by Charles Portis, Addie Pray by Joe David Brown, or Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons will enjoy.