Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
This is a fiercely original tale of love, heartbreak and resilience in the lonely wastes of the American Midwest. The last time Ree saw her father, he didn't bring food or money but promised he'd be back soon with a paper sack of cash and a truckload of delights. Since he left, she's had to look after her mother - sedated and losing her looks - and her two younger brothers. Ree hopes the boys won't turn out like the others in the Ozark mountains - hard and mean before they've learnt to shave. One cold winter's day, Ree discovers that her father has put up their house as bail and that it'll be sold from under them if he doesn't show up for his trial. Ree knows she needs to find her father to save her family but in a culture riven with secrecy and paranoia her questions are unwelcome and the answers painful. As Ree faces violence and a strange kind of loyalty she learns about courage and resilience. This is a startlingly vivid portrait of tough people and the unforgiving landscape they inhabit.