I'm always impressed with writers that can make eloquent prose about mundane and depressing topics. In Winter's Bone, It doesn't get more depressing than the back-woods meth-dominated environment that this novel is about. This is one of those marvelous novels that is about people and things I never want to be around. But Woodrell's beautiful prose and his fantastic 16 year old protagonist, Ree Dolly, manages to make this an uplifting novel despite the downbeat plot. Ree is told that she will lose her house where she takes care of her brothers and her invalid mother if her crank-cooking father does not show up at court. Ree has the misfortune of growing up in a incredibly dysfunctional clan and community yet she has an inner strength that help her survive and this keeps us interested in her plight. I know a lot of people loved the movie. I didn't precisely because I did not sense this inner strength in the main character. This is not a problem with the novel. Always realistic but never hopeless, this novel shines. Four and a half stars.