Sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly is barely holding her family together. She has two little brothers, a mother whose mind is gone, and a missing father. Her father has apparently jumped bail and disappeared. Ree has to find him, dead or alive. If she doesn't, the family will be homeless. Ree's search for her dad among the hills and woods and caves of the Ozarks drives the story. It involves a mostly unsavory bunch of characters. These are woman-beatin', 'shine-suckin', crank-cookin', doobie-tokin', squirrel-fryin', snot-slingin' hillbillies. And most of them are related to each other in the way that shortens the distance between the eyes.I loved the bond of friendship between Ree and Gail. They're bawdy and naughty together, as teenage girls should be. They're also dog loyal and will risk anything to help each other. Both of them have had to grow up too fast, but they still have the hope and recklessness and poor judgment of youth. They also provide what little humor there is in the story. It really tickled me when they were in the grocery store and Gail said she knew she must have grown up rich because they always had sprinkle cheese.I might have given this book only three stars because I had a hard time with much of the subject matter. Namely the drug use, squirrel guts, diaper scene in the pickup, a lot of puking, and the violence. I settled on four stars because it all felt so real, so authentic. The overall grittiness that made me uncomfortable was what made it believable. If you visited just the right place in the Ozarks, you could meet people living like this. Not that you'd want to!Woodrell's way of stringing words together is unusual and at times arresting. Sometimes it seems like he's straining a little to create original descriptions, but I don't think he goes overboard. It's just his style. I applaud him for having the good sense to write this story in the third person. A first person telling would have been a mistake---one made by far too many authors these days.