Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I was asked to review Winter's Bone for VOYA. Quite honestly, I've been putting it off. The story sounded interesting - a young girl, raised in poverty in the Ozarks, goes in search of her bail-jumping father to prevent her family from losing their home. Still, it sounded depressing, and it's written as an adult book (even though it has a young protagonist), so I figured it might be a tough read.
And it was, but not quite in the way I thought. Ree is an interesting character, although her motivations are not completely clear. Her love and respect for her family are evident, and her strength and determination are her defining characteristics, but I was unsure where these admirable traits came from. Her life is rough; her father cooks crystal meth and has jumped bail and left his family to fend for itself; her mother is mentally ill and unable to care for Ree's two younger brothers. Ree wants to escape by joining the Army, but the liklihood of that happening looks slim. Her father used their home to guarentee his bond, and no one has seen him since. Ree goes searching, determined to bring him in. Anyone who might know anything is relucant to talk - but not reluctant to use violence to keep their silence.
I read the book in one evening when I thought it would take two or three. The book is dark and rather depressing; Ree's chances of getting out aren't good, and you know from the beginning the liklihood of a happy ending is slim. Still, I kept reading because Ree drew me in, and her story was so true - until the end. Woodnell tried to tack on a happily-ever-after ending to a story that didn't want a fairy tale ending. While rest of the story felt gritty and true, it ended on a false note. Still, Ree's story is one worth reading, although it's appeal to teens may be limited.

Woodrell, Daniel. Winter's Bone. New York: Little Brown & Co. 2006.
Published August 2006

What I'm Reading: Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (published May 2006)
On My Bookshelf: Fruits Basket #1 by Natsuki Takaya; Black Juice by Margo Lanagan; Thessaly: Witch for Hire by Bill Willingham & Shawn McManus


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, I read this one in galleys, too. I think you failed to give a true picture of the prose wonders within---perhaps the literary aspects are beyond your range. The ending is not at all like a fairy-tale---Ree has lost two teeth, been beaten, her uncle will soon be dead, her father is already dead, her mother is crazy, and after meeting tremendous challenges she ends up with enough money to buy a used car---wouldn't call that a fairy-tale finish. This is truly a great book, and great books need great readers.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Anita Beaman said...

Trying to move past the hints that I not be "literary" enough to review or appreciate this book (I think my two English degrees, publications and review experience should speak for themselves) I do agree that it is a powerful book - and I state that in my review. And you're right, it isn't as if Ree hasn't paid a price for the ending, but it still didn't ring true for me. I really liked the rest of the book - as I said, Ree drew me in as a character and I think the majority of the novel is very real. It's a powerful and moving story of a young girl's strength and love for her family. That's why, for me, the ending was disappointing. Things wrapped up to neatly and too quickly and did not do the rest of the book justice.
Great books do need great readers, but not all great readers have to agree.

11:23 AM  

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