by Charles Portis
I can’t believe I put this one off for so long. When I finally picked it up I didn’t put it down until I was done. I’m not a fan of westerns, but this is another one of those genre defying books that defies categorization. It is part thriller, part coming-of-age, and part western. It has a quick moving plot and fantastic characters.
I’ve never read anything quite like the voice of Mattie Ross. At only 14 years of age she decides to avenge her father’s murder. But instead of heading off to the city with a gun and a fiery temper she methodically arranges to have his body sent home, collects his belongs, barters with a horse seller and hires a US Marshall to help her track his murderer. She is just fantastic.
The US Marshal is another great character. Rooster Cogburn operates by his own morality code. It might not make sense to others, but it’s certainly there. One of my favorite parts of the book is seeing how Mattie turned out as an adult. She’s telling the story about when she was 14, but she’s already an older woman at the beginning of the novel.
BOTTOM LINE: A classic and one I’ll reread in the future. It’s a rare treat to find a character like Mattie Ross.
“You must pay for everything in the world one way or another. There is nothing free except the Grace of God. You cannot earn that or deserve it.”
** I saw the Coen brothers’ film version and it is just excellent. Make sure you check it out if you read the book!