Winter’s Bone

Book & Author

Winter’s Bone
Ree Dolly’s 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. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.

Daniel Woodrell

Born in Springfield Missouri, Woodrell found his way out of the Ozarks by joining the Marines.  He later earned a BA from the University of Kansas and then he was accepted into the Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop where he earned a MFA.  After some time away from Missouri, he returned to West Plains, Missouri in the Ozarks, where he lives with his wife, novelist Katie Estill.

In this video, Woodrell talks with talks with Rich Fahle of Bibliostar.TV  about his connection to the Ozarks, how residents of his home state have reacted to his books, and what it was like for him when Winter’s Bone was made into a movie.

Quote from the book

Never. Never ask for what ought to be offered.


Topics this book will bring up for discussion include:

  • The book vividly portrays the effect of drugs on the inhabits of the community.  Do you think moonshine wreaked as much havoc on rural American populations as crystal meth has?
  • Ree’s relationship with her friend Gail.  Why is she so drawn to her?  What do they supply for each other?
  • Do you think Ree would have been better off pursuing her dream of joining the military than staying with her dependent family? If not, why?

More discussion questions are available from


Anthony Bourdain featured Daniel Woodrell and the town of West Plains, Missouri on his show No Reservations.  You can watch clips from the show on the Travel Channel website, though they don’t appear to be the clips that feature Woodrell, who apparently broke his shoulder during the filming of the show.
The library does have season 7 of No Reservations on DVD, which includes “The Ozarks”, which is the show that features Woodrell.  Your group could check it out and watch part of it to see the author in a different context.

If you are looking for ideas for food to serve at your meeting, you could try looking at the food section from the West Plains, Missouri newspaper, the West Plains Daily Quill.  Among other things, I found an interesting Molasses Cake recipe that would certainly bring a different regional flavor to the table.

Then of course there is the Winter’s Bone movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.  It would be well worth watching it and comparing the book to the movie.


Have you or your group read Winter’s Bone?  Would you recommend it to other book groups?  Comment on this post and let your thoughts be known!