In Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone, 16-year-old Ree Dolly has to tend her mentally ill mother and two pre-teen brothers all by herself, as her dad has been gone for a while now. One day, she learns that he put his house up for his bail-out, meaning their house will be gone if he doesn’t show up for court. Ree decides to set out and find him.
Wow. Just … Wow. The setting is a contemporary rural area with most people living in isolated houses, strong family bonds, and a lot of individualist strength. A reality completely beyond the grasp of most city-dwellers like myself. There is no blame and no arrogance in the book. Personal tragedies and daily suffering are described as simple reality, often not even particularly highlighted, just a mention in passing. An incredible book.
If you happen to feel too good and like to face some sobering reality, this is just the book for you.