There are few tales I remember from my Uncle Scott's growing up. Family said his people were from Appalachia.They might have been, but during my childhood Uncle Scott was from Ocala--tall trees and neighborhood roads without curbs. He once told my cousin and I how to get rid of warts. I wish I could remember the recipe complete. It was something involving a strand of hair and moonlight. Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell brought Appalachia to mind, but it is not set in Appalachia, it's set in the Ozarks of Arkansas. I'm not familiar with the Ozarks. Robert Flanders makes the Appalachia to Ozark comparison in OzarksWatch, but what I liked about the piece was this line: "The difference between town and country is this: In town others do for you. In the country you do for yourself." That is true of the Dolly's in Winter's Bone's hollows.
These Ozarks are not the superstitious, moonlight back woods of my uncle's stories, but the raw struggles of mountain folks in need: poverty, hunger, going without. It is a place where families do for themselves, shooting squirrels or other small game for the stew pot is but one example. Crime is big business. Ree Dolly's father cooks meth and has disappeared. She's been taking care of her younger brothers and her mom, since her mother has all but lost her mind. The law tells Ree that if her father doesn't show for his court appearance she will lose the house he put up for bail money. So begins Ree's quest to find her father. Bleak and cold, Winter's Bone showcases a side of humanity that hurts: themselves, each other, their families. Winter's Bone is a stark and brutal tale of a strong girl's struggles to make it out. How will she survive?
How does this sound to you? Sea plane into the Canadian wilderness, canoes, camping , no electronics, a month on the water. Heavenly. Effervescent, Nina de Gramont's Every little Thing in the World soaks readers in the pine-scented wilderness of Canada and story.When Sydney Biggs receives a month in Camp Bell from her as her punishment for going awry at home she too looks on it as a gift. As she should, pregnant and privledged, Sydney needs to figure out what to do. She's lied to her mother, been caught drinking, experimented with sex and ended her junior year pregnant. She and best-friend, Natalia, have it all figured out. Natalia will snitch the money Syd needs for an abortion. But is that what she really wants? Before she can decide both girls are busted in Natalia's mother's Cadillac at a kegger. Sydney's mom has had enough. She ships Sydney off to live with her father and new family for the summer.
Her weeks at Camp Bell canoeing ancient trails across a Canadian lake give her space and time to find herself and figure out what comes next. The narrative echoes with wilderness. Sydney and 8 campers strike out with meager supplies, tents and the little gear each canoe will hold. She feels her strength coming back with each day's portage. Will she be strong enough to save herself or her friendship with Natalia? The characters sparkle as their oars dip into deep lake waters. A quick read, if you enjoy the outdoors or reading about teens in trouble, this is the book for you.