Read: Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell, 2006, 9780316057554.
Good stuff. I liked that other one of his better. Same setting in the rural Ozarks. Similar characters with a centering on the Dolly clan. The Dolly's are a wide ranging, white trash, criminal family with shootings, beatings, prison terms, and all else for resumes.
Ree Dolly is sixteen with two brothers under the age of ten. Her mother is mentally ill and severely withdrawn and unable to do much of anything. Ree's father is a former jailbird and full-time crook; he is a Dolly after all.
Ree's father has been gone for a while. Nothing too much to worry about, that's what he and other Dolly men do at times. A Deputy shows at Ree's door and tells her that her father missed a court date and put the house up as bond. She'll lose the house to the bondsman in a week if he does not show. Ree has plans to escape the craphole area she lives in. She is not longer in school but hopes to join the Army and travel far away. For now though she is the only one taking care of her brothers and mother. The huge extended Dolly family of cousins and more cousins might help but no offers have been forthcoming lately.
Ree starts looking for her father and no one, including all those cousins, wants to answer her questions. They tell her to stop asking or regret her actions. Now, Ree knows her dad is dead. But, she has to prove that to keep the house.
Ree walks all over the winter Ozarks since she has no car. Has a secret lesbian thing for her best friend. Is threatened by her scary relatives. Worries about feeding her brothers. Makes plans to move the family into a nearby cave for when they lose the house. Gets viciously beaten by some Dolly women. Proves she "has sand" with her persistence. Ree's scary uncle saves her. Finds her father turned snitch for fear of a ten year stretch in prison and staying away from his family. The father's informing - even though it was against people outside the area - gets him killed. Ree is taken to her father - frozen in a pond - and cuts both hands off to prove his death.
1. Stay away from Woodrell's Ozarks.
2. Don't drive through Woodrell's Ozarks.
3. Pack heat when within 50 miles of Woodrell's Ozarks.
4. Ree is an impressive gal fighting for her family. Her hard-ass relatives ostracize her and the others even though they are innocent kids.
5. Lots of drugs: weed, speed, booze. Everyone does weed including the kindergarten teacher Ree visits for information. Dollys make their living brewing speed and running dope.
6. Woodrell makes immediately clear that a Dolly is never to associate with the law. Ree's brothers get a ride home from the bus stop by the Deputy and Ree flips out yelling, "They didn't do nothing." once the squad pulls up. She is then pissed to find they accepted the ride.
7. How does government operate in Woodrell's Ozarks? I cannot imagine these people people paying property taxes.
8. Ree is determined to keep her brothers from the Doyle career path. Keep them our of crime and out of prison. Prison is just another career step for a Dolly.