Just a few weeks ago we shared our review of The Maid’s Version, Daniel Woodrell’s latest book. This happened to be the first of his books that I’d read. Often when I enjoy a particular book by a writer, I become interested in reading their earlier books. This is the case with Mr. Woodrell. He happens to be from my home state of Missouri, from the southern part of the state near the Ozarks. The region is well-represented in his book, it’s a unique flavor and introduces the Ozarks to a broader audience. It happened to serve as the setting (or one of the settings) in The Maid’s Version, and in one of his more notable books, Winter’s Bone.
In 2010 Winter’s Bone was made into a movie starting the then-unknown Jennifer Lawrence. She plays 17-year old Ree, who is desperate to find her fugitive father and save her family’s home that had been used as collateral when her father was bailed out of jail. Ms. Lawrence has so far based her successful career off a few notable literary characters – of course she is best known as Katniss Everdeen, heroine of the Hunger Games trilogy. Last year she starred as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook, which was based off the book written by Matthew Quick. Winter’s Bone was one of her first major film roles, one which earned her an Oscar nomination. Ree, the strong young woman she plays from the Ozarks, is just as tough and courageous as Katniss.
Ree’s situation is incredibly dire from the beginning of the story – she hasn’t seen her father in quite a while, and had no idea that he had put their home up for collateral when he was bailed out of jail. Her father had a long history of being on the wrong side of the law, as had many of Ree’s family. As the head of the household, she does what she can to survive. She has two younger brothers (though in the movie there is a brother and a sister), and the three of them live with Ree’s mother who seems to be in a permanent state of shock. She is useless as a provider and caregiver for the family.
Who knew that the Ozarks, tucked in the southern part of the state, was a hotbed of illegal activity? Ree’s father was arrested in a meth lab bust, something his brother had also been involved in. This is a way of life for Ree’s family and neighbors in the area. This makes it even more difficult for Ree to get help and locate her father, something she must do to save their home. She shows little concern for her father’s welfare, she’s only interested in helping her siblings in mother, for whom she has become a caregiver. Her biggest obstacle are some of the “heads” of the crime family. Although in the book it’s not described as organized crime, or compared to the mafia, that’s the sense I got when reading the book. One particular individual who is feared throughout the region is described similarly to a crime boss. This is one person no one wants to cross, yet Ree knows that there’s no other way to find her father. She fearlessly approaches him, gaining the respect of everyone involved.
I was so impressed by Ree’s character, and loved Jennifer Lawrence in the role! The ending of the movie (and book) is quite shocking – making Ree a complete, fearless badass! If you’re a fan of Miss Lawrence, this movie is a must-see, and the book is a must-read!