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Winter's Bone

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  33,919 ratings  ·  3,796 reviews
The sheriff's deputy at the front door brings hard news to Ree Dolly. Her father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn't show up for his next court date.

Ree's father has disappeared before. The Dolly clan has worked the shadowy side of the law for generations, and arrests (and attempts to avoid them) ar
Hardcover, 193 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2006)
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Barbara Ruth I also tracked down the book after having loved the movie. I may love them equally. Yes, the book is slightly different, and more detailed in that you…moreI also tracked down the book after having loved the movie. I may love them equally. Yes, the book is slightly different, and more detailed in that you get deeper into the heads of the characters and some of the motivations that aren't quite as clear from watching the film become clearer when you read the background (why the neighbors are willing to take one child but not the other for instance). I can't recommend the book enough.(less)
Barbara Ruth
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  33,919 ratings  ·  3,796 reviews

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Apr 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: table, grit-lit, favorites

this is pretty much why i read, to find a book like this amongst all the three-star so-so's. and it wasn't love at first sight (which might make the experience even better; i didn't love winesberg, ohio right out of the gate either) - i had some reservations from the first page, when the poetic quality of the language seemed forced and i wasn't going to deal with 200 pages of:
"three halt haggard houses formed a kneeling rank on the far creekside...", or "Ree, brunette and sixteen, with milk
Emily May
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, contemporary
Houses above looked caught on the scraggly hillsides like crumbs in a beard and apt to fall as suddenly. They’d been there two or three lifetimes, though, and cascades of snow, mushes of rain, and huffing spring wind had tried to knock them loose and send them tumbling but never did. There were narrow footpaths wending all about the slopes between the trees, along the rock ledges, from house to house, and in better weather Ree thought Hawkfall looked sort of enchanted, if a place could be enc
Reading this book made me realize how FRIGGIN' SHELTERED my life has been. To me, Winter's Bone reads just like a nightmarish dystopia. To millions of people, apparently, it's life.

Ree Dolly is incredibly tough and hardened by life - much more than you'd expect from a sixteen-year-old girl.
"She could be beat with a garden rake and never cry and had proved that twice before Mamaw saw an unsmiling angel pointing from the treetops at dusk and quit the bottle. She would never cry where her
Bill Kerwin
Sep 05, 2010 rated it really liked it

In this crime thriller set in the Ozarks, 16-year-old Ree Dolly goes on a manhunt to locate her meth-cooking father, dead or alive. She needs to find him because he put their house up for collateral with the bailbondsmen, and he's due in court soon.

The Ozark atmosphere is convincing, Woodrell's prose is spare and poetic, and--most important of all--Ree Dolly is a great person to get to know. (I half hope--and half dread--that this may be the first in a series. I want to hear more of Ree, but I
Justin Tate
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The movie is not without charm, but doesn’t come close to capturing the full scope of the novel’s bleak beauty. Family dynamics, an integral piece of the story, seem only hinted at on film. The movie’s stark, frost-bitten setting is represented only by bare branches and ski caps. In the book, you actually feel the wind chill and every degree below freezing. Most shockingly, the movie doesn’t feature a single fluff of snow.

Then there's the prose. No movie in the world can capture the perfection o
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
An Angry Country

It’s difficult to imagine what encouraged the first English settlers to re-locate from their lives of drudgery in the Appalachian mountains to precisely the same lives of drudgery a thousand miles distant in the Ozark hills (mountains being a mere conceit). But move they did, with their traditions of inbreeding, moonshine and frontier violence.

The Ozarks, strectching over the corners of four US States, is a sort of American Kurdistan, an artificially divided country. The tourist
I grew up in a rural area with no shortage of poor rednecks so I thought I knew about country poverty, but the people I knew with their decayed farm houses and trailers lived like Donald Trump compared to the backwoods clan of hill folk in this book.

Ree Dolly is a 16-year old girl who dropped out of high school to take care of her crazy mother and two younger brothers. She lives in a remote part of the Ozarks where the only job opportunities are in crystal meth production. Ree plans on joining t
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

This short novel has many things I enjoy in dark fiction – quirky, dysfunctional characters, a determined heroine struggling to survive and keep her family together, a bleak setting, a sense of hopelessness, people who pay the price for their bad choices. This is a quiet story that crept up on me slowly and haunted me for days afterward.

Actually, it terrified me and made me glad I grew up in New York City. Sure, there were shootings, muggings, carjackings, and stabbing
Joe Valdez
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-general
My introduction to the fiction of Daniel Woodrell is Winter's Bone, and what a strong introduction. Published in 2006, it logs somewhere between a novella and short novel at only 45,883 words, but the remnants left behind conjure such a strong sense of environment and of a gritty female protagonist struggling to survive in that environment that I felt like I'd walked a mile in her shoes, in the snow, trucking water pails, both ways. The literary ambitions of the novel are impossible to tamper do ...more
Paul Bryant
Nov 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Gets so close to a fourth star it can smell the new paint job. In fact the plot is totally 5 star – the motivations and machinations of all the characters make complete sense and are a real heartbreaker. The main character, 16 year old Ree Dolly, is great. In the movie, which I came across all of 4 years ago, she’s played by none other than Jennifer Lawrence in her first big role, and the movie and Jennifer both knocked me flat on my back then. It’s a must see. If any book was filmed exactly rig ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2012, for-kindle
It’s funny how my brain works. So this novel is about a strong teenage girl living in conditions of depressing destitution without a father, caring for her sibling(s) and her invalid mother, cooking for them, bathing them, getting them ready for school, and generally assuming a responsibility that far exceeds her years—she even hunts squirrel! Any of this sound familiar? Maybe I’m not the only one who was reminded of Katniss Everdeen, but what’s interesting is that both Everdeen and Ree Dolly, t ...more
Dan Schwent
Ree Dolly's father has jumped bail, leaving their home forfeit unless Ree can find him before his court date. Will she be able to find her father before she ends up homeless with her two brothers and insane mother?

First off, I have a confession to make. I live in rural Missouri and, therefore, some of the locations depicted in the story seem a lot like places I've driven through at a high rate of speed. Also, I've eaten squirrel on at least two occasions. Now, on to the meat of the review.

Oct 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blood is thicker than water.

This book turned out way better than it started. I was going to rate it a 2 and then it turned around and picked up. A story of survival and family. A story about one girl's determination to find her father and clear her name so she could raise her brothers.

Not too shabby. A bit like Ma and Pa Kettle meets Deliverance if you catch my drift....
Oct 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: October 2012 group read "On The Southern Literary Trail"
Winter's Bone: Daniel Woodrell's Tale of When Blood is thicker than water

When I was a boy we had no Interstates. The car was not air-conditioned. A trip from Tuscaloosa to North Alabama was a twisting, turning drive through mountains and steep valleys as you drove into the northern part of the County. We traveled early to avoid the afternoon heat. The mists rose up from the valleys making the mountains look as though they grew out of clouds. My grandfather would comment on the smell of the worki
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Well, I'm an idiot (pretend this is news, please). I dismissed this book out of hand for years because I had a bunch of weird assumptions about it, none of which were based in anything even resembling reality, or the very encouraging reviews of it I actually did read several years ago. Even despite being told otherwise on multiple occasions, I sorta-thought 1) it was a Young Adult novel, 2) full of cheap emotional ploys, 3) like maybe a teen version of The Lovely Bones only because there's also ...more
D. Pow
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man, O Man, can this guy write. This is a very impressive novel. Here is language that soars, home-spun lyricisms, trailer-trash poetry, a book chock-full of crackhead sonnet riffs; Woodrell is a virtuoso of the first degree.

In Ree Dolly, the teenage protagonist he has conjured up, he has invented somebody you'll remember gladly until your dying days. Fiercely courageous with a keen eye for the moral effrontery foisted on her small shoulders by kin close and distant, she is feisty as a stirred-
The blood feud world of the sagas in the contemporary Ozarks. Where once people got by through not asking questions and trading in moonshine they now struggle on by not asking questions, and dealing in drugs. The setting is modern rural poverty, but the attitudes and behaviours are redolent of the border reivers. Tough, violent and macho. Whether drugs and alcohol mellow the sharp edges, or simply precipitate the next clash is debatable.

One night when Ree was still a bantling Dad had gotten cros
Feb 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: trilobites
Shelves: fiction, to-be-burned
Horrendous, goopy, writers' workshop writing.

"Moons of ache glowed in spaces of her meat and when she moved the moons banged together and stunned." (Are sentences required to make sense in "contemporary fiction?")

"Moans droned from her chest of bones. Shit leaked from her panties and she felt runnels of yuck on her thighs." Channeling Dr. Seuss and Cormac McCarthy simultaneously: ambitious!

"She thrust her head into the cold and broadcast the hot mush of old swallowed food toward the snowbanks."
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Beautifully written, this is a simple story about survival, winter and bones. The main thing to survive is poverty - the kind where buttonless overcoats are de rigueur, and hunting and skinning squirrels is not done strictly for entertainment. It's in the Ozarks and winter is bone-cracking cold. We open the book to a hint of flurries, and venison hanging in trees to "sweeten that meat to the bone", and we meet Ree Dolly, our tough teen heroine.

The title "Winter's Bone" for me summoned a cold,
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
I did the unforgivable.

I saw the movie prior to reading the book.

I know, the shame.

The admirable strength of Ree held together not only her family but also this book.
Never. Never ask for what ought to be offered.

It might be Jennifer Lawrence, but Ree does remind me of a harder, prouder Katnis.

Ree's father posted bail and ran off, leaving her to tend her young brothers and her disconnected mother. The house is in danger and the food is nearly out yet her back is stiff, her jaw is square. Sh
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I read Winter's Bone on D and Karen's recommendations, so I’m posting links to their reviews before I start:


Winter’s Bone is a hell of a book in that A) the novel is fantastic, and B) it's set in an American version of hell. The story of Ree, a teenage girl charged with finding her bail-jumping father in order to save her family’s house, catches fire early and never cools down. Ree lives in a terrifying sectio
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This novella is a gem. It's tough yet emotional, scary yet empowering, stark and yet beautiful.

I have been meaning to read Winter's Bone for several years, but I kept putting it off because I thought it would be depressing. And while the story is bleak, it is so gorgeously written that I got lost in the prose.

The book is set in an impoverished region in southern Missouri called the Ozarks, where making meth is a popular way of earning a living. But 17-year-old Ree Dolly hopes to escape to the A
James Thane
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly lives for the day when she will be old enough to join the Army and escape the grinding economic and intellectual poverty of her life in the Missouri Ozarks where her extended family lives by a variety of illegal pursuits, mostly involving the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamines and crank cocaine. But Ree's dreams are shattered when her father, a celebrated meth chef, disappears, leaving Ree nearly penniless and responsible for her two younger brothers and ...more
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
A few authors over the course of the past few years have recently stood out above the normal, literary crowd—for me, anyways. And the thing I noticed about these authors is that they all seem to write darker fiction. If I had to say, a good representation of these authors is: Roberto Bolano, Cormac McCarthy, Castle Freeman, Jr., and now, Daniel Woodrell.

These authors make up a class of writers that I have termed Brutal Poets. Their use of language invokes a visceral response from the reader, so
Anthony Vacca
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
For the most part, I am perfectly content to read books littered with despicable exemplars of our wonderful species. Give me your moral degenerates, your psychopathic wives, your misogynistic husbands, your bloodthirsty children, your lechers, repeat killers, serial adulterers, conmen, thieves, necrophiliacs, Christians—give me every last bit of your human refuge because I will gladly read about them over honest, good, hardworking men and women any day of the week. Why? Because good people are b ...more
I've put off writing a review for this book because I always struggle with the great ones and Woodrell's Winter's Bone is one of those (with a capital G). It's craft and heart and drama and beauty. It's poetry and grit, entangled in an embrace of love and hatred.

Woodrell offers up a stinging portrait of impoverished life in the Ozarks, where kin saves as often as it condemns. The hill people of Ree's world live by their own laws separate from that of the state -- of paramount importance, don't
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Icy, dark, beautiful, and brutal. Ive rarely hurt for and hoped for a character as much as I did Ree. Sweet Pea, for all time.

The main character here is written as tough and tender and backed into a hard place, and it is terrific to see a strong female protagonist in a work of Southern grit lit. Ree is a bright teen living in poverty but who sees a sensible way out of the awful lifestyle that her parents have accepted.

As her plans start to gel, a family emergency pops up, and there are no adul
I'm not feeling like a full review today so I'll limit this to only a few comments.

*The Ozarks in which this book takes place seem to have nothing in common with the OZARK Netflix show.

*I have no doubt in my mind that life in some areas of the Ozarks is as brutal as it's depicted in this book. Poverty, drug use, tight family units, and long-held multi-generational grudges are just part of the miserable lives examined here.

*I couldn't help but feel for 16 year old Ree who just wanted to join t
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great story, characterful, fits in with my favorite authors Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx. I loved Ree! Hear a movie is made of this book, glad I read the book first!
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Annie Proulx ("Brokeback Mountain")
A perfect, ice-cold winter read that burns like frostbite, but in a pleasant way.

In this thriller set in the harsh Ozark Mountains, 17-year-old Ree Dolly is determined to find her father. Deadbeat dad and meth-cooker Jessup Dolly didn’t show up for court, and since he put up their house for collateral with the bailbondsmen, chances are high that the family gets kicked out by the end of the month.
Bearing responsibility for her two younger brothers and her mentally unstable mother, Ree starts as
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Screen & Page: Winter's Bone 2 12 Dec 24, 2016 05:38AM  
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To Be Renamed... ...: August 2016 - Winter's Bone 1 10 Jul 25, 2016 05:26PM  

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