Thursday, March 3, 2011

Winter's Bone; Daniel Woodrell


Title: Winter's Bone
Author: Daniel Woodrell
Publication Year: 2007
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Edition: Trade softcover
Source: Library
Date Completed: 3/3/2011
Setting: Ozarks
Rating: 4/5 stars
Recommend: Yes 

A few months ago I tried watching the DVD of Winter's Bone,  and just found the movie painfully slow, and ended up not finishing it.  A few coworkers said "big mistake, it's wonderful", so I decided to give the book a try instead. The book, for me worked out much better. Set in the Ozark mountains, where life is tough and the people are poor, sixteen year old protagonist Ree Dolly, knows what hardship is all about. In this mountainous area of Missouri, people must prepare for winter well in advance of its arrival.  For her family food is scarce, and she not only must care for her siblings, but she must watch over her mentally ill mother as well.

If that isn't enough for a sixteen year old to contend with, she must also find her "daddy" Jessup, a  meth cooker who skipped town. He put the family's house up for collateral when he was released on bond, and if he doesn't show up for his court date, their home could be taken from them. Ree Dolly is determined to  see that her family does not lose the house, so she takes on the extra burden of trying to track her father down in this backwoods wilderness.  She is determined to find their "daddy" whether it be dead or alive. As she travels far and wide in search of Jessup, it is clear she is on a mission that she plans on seeing through.

The writing is pretty amazing, as the author paints a pretty dark and depressing picture of what life in the Ozarks is like for many people. From foraging for food, and meat carcasses strung on trees, there is a feeling of hopelessness and desperation through and through.  I found myself so awestruck over Ree's character and determination, that despite the depressing nature of the story, I had to find out what would happen in the end.  Ree will probably be one of the most memorable characters I've encountered in a long while.

31 comments:

  1. This looked pretty intense from the snippets they showed on the Oscars. And scary!

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  2. What's sad is that's probably a reality for some kids. Sounds like a powerful book.

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  3. I loved the movie... Story was sad tho...omg the characters went to hell and back as they say...

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  4. It's not a surprise to me that you fared better with the novel than the film. However, both sound too 'raw' (?) for me, not something I can manage now with the emotional heaviness.

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  5. I saw the movie and ended up really liking it. It's all raw and sad and powerful. Sounds like the book is too! I'll have to keep my eye out for a copy.

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  6. Winter's Bone sounds like a powerful and sad read. Like bermudaonion said, this is the reality for so many people!

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  7. I think I heard about this movie via Wendy @ Literary Feline and it's been on my list to watch. I so want to read this one too!! Excellent review of this book!

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  8. Wow sounds great. I will put this on my wish list. I wish I had time to read. School is getting the way of my first love. Sigh..

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  9. Hated--this--movie! It was like watching paint dry. Be glad you didn't finish it. I was shocked when it was nominated for best picture. I understood the actor/actress noms because it was well-acted, but NOT best picture. I will agree that it makes more sense as a book and I would probably like it better in book form. I'll have to watch for it at a library sale or something.

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  10. Sounds likea hard hitting book. I haven't heard of either the film of the book. I must live in a bubble sometimes.

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  11. Sounds like some powerful story! Have a great weekend!

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  12. it sounds very good, but I have to be in the right mood to read 'dark and depressing'.

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  13. Amazing writing is why books are usually so much better than movies, especially when it comes to heavy topics like this one. Somehow I can't absorb a movie like I can a book.

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  14. Where, oh where, have I been? I've not heard of either the book or the movie. Now, I want to Netflix it, but will make a note to read the book first. Isn't that how it always is?

    I feel so bad for kids in situations like this. I seem to always turn on National Geographic when there is a documentary focusing on these subjects (one even was about the Ozarks area, surprisingly). I hate how children have to deal with this.

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  15. Nice review Diane. This sounds like a novel that I would like.

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  16. This sounds like such a sad but powerful story. I know I'll have to prep and be prepared to read this one.

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  17. I feel like such an outsider this time around. I haven't seen any of the movies that were nominated, with the exception of Toy Story 3. I didn't even know Winter's Bone was based on a book until I watched the awards.

    It sounds really good and many of my friends say it should have won!

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  18. This does sound like a really good book, even though it's a little depressing. I haven't seen the movie either, but I really want to experience both. Going to add this one to my list. Thanks!

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  19. Sometimes I prefer a book to a movie as well. The subject here sounds pretty depressing. I'm glad that the writing was amazing. Terrific review, Diane!

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  20. This does sound like a great read. I wonder if you might like the movie better after having read the book?

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  21. Ree is one of the most memorable characters I have encountered in a while, too. I loved her quiet strength and the way she gets the job done.

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  22. This sounds so bleak and intense. I didn't see the movie. Maybe I'll read the book too.

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  23. I never really knew what the movie was about - but after reading your review I am very interested in reading this story - some for the plot, some for the memorable character - but mostly because I live near the Ozark mountains and I would love to read a story that takes place in the setting.

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  24. The book sounded pretty good, until the search for her "daddy" came in. Is the book heavy on it? Or is it just a small part of her struggles she deals with?

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  25. As usual the book beats the movie - and the movie's Oscar-nominated! Ree's story sounds really heartbreaking and compelling.

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  26. I saw the title of your post and thought "that sounds so familiar" and then you mentioned the DVD and I remembered Winter's Bone is on my Netflix list.
    I think this story sounds like one which is better told in print as your experience confirms. I think a character like Ree needs the greater explanation and development the printed word provides and which a film doesn't. A reader probably gets to know her far better than a viewer. I am very interested in reading her story and supporting her as she struggles through the day and takes care of her family...I tend to be intrigued by characters like Ree, generally!
    Thank you for your review and discovering a book that sounds well worth reading (and better than the movie, whoddathunk?!)

    ~ Amy

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  27. Jules, yes, her search for their "daddy" becomes the focus of the novel pretty much.

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  28. I really want to read this one. I saw the movie trailer and loved it. It sounds like you didn't like the movie but you enjoyed the book so I will definitely plan to read the book and then give the movie a try.

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  29. My brother was talking about this movie for some time, but I was more interested in the book. This is the first review I'm reading and you have me curious! I think I will give it a try.

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  30. I didn't realize the movie came from a book. While watching the Oscars I kept hearing Winter's Bone get nominated in several categories and I was curious about it. Based on your comments, maybe I should skip the movie and read the book.

    Great review!

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  31. I wasn't a huge fan of the film either. I actually liked it in initially, but when I realized the intrigue was going to the most logical place, I lost the love for it. I'm glad to hear the book was more successful. I'll have to look for more by this author!

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