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Cover image for Winter's bone : a novel
Winter's bone : a novel



1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2006.
Physical Description:
193 pages ; 22 cm
Reaching her sixteenth year in the harsh Ozarks while caring for her poverty-stricken family, Ree Dolly learns that they will lose their house unless her bail-skipping father can be found and made to appear at an upcoming court date.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.0 7.0 108428.


Call Number

On Order



When Ree Dollys father skips bail, the 16-year-old knows if he doesn't show up, her family will lose their home. Her goal had been to leave her life of poverty and join the Army, but first she must find her father, teach her little brothers to fend for themselves, and escape a downward spiral of misery.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-In the poverty-stricken hills of the Ozarks, Rees Dolly, 17, struggles daily to care for her two brothers and an ill mother. When she learns that her absent father, a meth addict, has put up the family home as bond, she embarks on a dangerous search to find him and bring him home for an upcoming court date. Her relatives, many of whom are in the business of "cooking crank," thwart her at every turn, but her fight to save the family finally succeeds. Rees is by turns tough and tender. She teaches her brothers how to shoot a shotgun, and even box, the way her father had taught her. Her hope is "that these boys would not be dead to wonder by age twelve, dulled to life, empty of kindness, boiling with mean." A male friend feeds her hallucinogenic mushrooms and then assaults her. But, like Mattie Ross in Charles Portis's True Grit (Penguin, 1995), Rees beats the odds with spunk and courage. In spare but evocative prose, Woodrell depicts a harsh world in which the responsibilities for survival ultimately give Rees meaning and direction. He depicts the landscape, people, and dialects with stunning realism. A compelling testament to how people survive in the worst of circumstances.-Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, Va (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Woodrell flirts with but doesn't succumb to cliche in his eighth novel, a luminescent portrait of the poor and desperate South that drafts 16-year-old Ree Dolly, blessed with "abrupt green eyes," as its unlikely heroine. Ree, too young to escape the Ozarks by joining the army, cares for her two younger brothers and mentally ill mother after her methamphetamine-cooking father, Jessup, disappears. Recently arrested on drug charges, Jessup bonded out of jail by using the family home as collateral, but with a court date set in one week's time and Jessup nowhere to be found, Ree has to find him dead or alive or the house will be repossessed. At its best, the novel captures the near-religious criminal mania pervasive in rural communities steeped in drug culture. Woodrell's prose, lyrical as often as dialogic, creates an unwieldy but alluring narrative that allows him to draw moments of unexpected tenderness from predictable scripts: from Ree's fearsome, criminal uncle Teardrop, Ree discovers the unshakable strength of family loyalty; from her friend Gail and her woefully dependant siblings, Ree learns that a faith in kinship can blossom in the face of a bleak and flawed existence. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

A stoical Appalachian girl strives to rescue her family from her father's criminal legacy in Woodrell's bleak, mean, gripping eighth novel. In Missouri's Rathlin Valley near the Arkansas border, "crank" cooker and dealer Jessup Dolly has jumped bail, leaving his 16-year-old daughter Ree to look after her younger brothers and their helpless Mom, once a spirited beauty, now a passive recluse sunk in the dreamy recesses of her "broken" mind. If Jessup doesn't return for trial, his family will be evicted, their land sold for timber, and they'll find shelter only among the hillside caves where generations of itinerant ancestors weathered their passage to settlement, led by their hardbitten patriarch Haslam. An Old Testament harshness and spareness indeed shadow this grim tale, as Ree seeks her father, dead or alive, aided by her childhood friend (and sometime lover), unhappily married Gail Langan. It's an odyssey rich with echoes of Inman's journey in Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, the homicidal poetry of Cormac McCarthy's tense narratives (with random bits and snatches of Elmore Leonard and Harry Crews), as Ree doggedly perseveres, querying her sullen and inscrutable Uncle Teardrop, her wrathful kinsman Thump Milton and his menacing passel of gun-toting cronies and combative womenfolk--considering the increasingly likely possibility that Jessup had "turned snitch" and met his fate at the hands of his former accomplices. The truth both endangers Ree's life and sets her free, in a coiled-spring narrative whose precisely honed prose vibrates with arresting descriptive phrases ("Houses above look caught on the scraggly hillsides like combs in a beard and apt to fall as suddenly") and unsparing doom-laden pronouncements ("Either he stole or he told. Those are the things they kill you for"). And the unforgettable Ree is a heroine like no other. Every bit as good as Woodrell's icy The Death of Sweet Mister (2001)--in other words, about as good as it gets. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

In Give Us a Kiss0 (1996), Woodrell introduced the Redmonds, marijuana farmers from the Ozarks ("It's a strange, powerful bloodline poetry, I guess, but there's something so potent to us Redmonds about bustin' laws together, as a family"). Now he turns his attention to the Redmonds' archenemies, the Dollys, another family of dirt farmers who thrive on bustin' laws together (crank cocaine being their crop of choice). But this time the Dollys aren't feuding with the Redmonds as much as battling each other. Sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly, who dreams of escaping her family by joining the army ("where you got to travel with a gun and they make everybody help keep things clean") is caught in the crossfire when her daddy jumps bail, leaving her stuck with two younger brothers and the prospect of forfeiting their house if the old man doesn't show up for his court date. To find Daddy, dead or alive, and save the house, Ree must ask questions of her notoriously tight-lipped relatives ("talkin' causes witnesses"). When she keeps pushing for answers, the relatives push back. Like his characters, and especially his teen characters, Woodrell's prose mixes tough and tender so thoroughly yet so delicately that we never taste even a hint of false bravado, on the one hand, or sentimentality, on the other. And Ree is one of those heroines whose courage and vulnerability are both irresistible and completely believable--think of not just Mattie Ross in True 0 Grit but also Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird0 or even Eliza Naumann in Bee Season0 . One runs out of superlatives to describe Woodrell's fiction. We called his last novel, The Death of Sweet Mister0 (2001), "word perfect." If that's true--and it is--this one is word perfecter0 . --Bill Ott Copyright 2006 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly has a plan. She's going to join the army as soon as she can free herself from her complicated family obligations. Unfortunately, her father, part of a large extended Dolly family crystal meth enterprise, is missing. Her mother's mind is gone, and two little brothers worship at Ree's feet. Ree gets word that her father has skipped bail; if he doesn't meet his court date, the family loses its home, and there's nowhere to go. Ree begins a journey through the savage poverty of a brutally cold Ozarks winter to deliver her father before his court date. Woodrell's captivatingly resourceful protagonist both enchants and horrifies with her fierce determination to get to the truth of her father's disappearance and to protect her brothers. When she takes on the Dolly family's deep, cancerous control of the meth network, the eruption of violence nearly costs her everything. Woodrell's eighth novel (after The Death of Sweet Mister) exposes the tragedy of crystal meth in rural America in all its brutal ugliness in language that is both razor sharp and grimly gorgeous. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/06.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.