True Grit by Charles Portis
Great characters, a consistently unique writing style, and a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience...these are difficult things to accomplish when writing a novel. To pull off all three, at once, in the same book, and also make the story exciting, surprising, and thought-provoking as well--that’s absolutely remarkable! Which is what we have with True Grit.

Many are aware of the basic plot of this story: a young girl, hell-bent on revenge for her father’s tragic death, hires a surly, unconventional US Marshall with a questionable past to help her find the killer. The murderer is on the run, hiding out and making moves in dangerous Indian Territory.

Now, if you have John Wayne in mind, you’re right. He plays the classic version of Rooster Cogburn in the original film. A role that was reprised somewhat recently by Jeff Bridges in a new movie version of True Grit directed by the Coen Brothers.

If you have seen neither, or both of these films, I still definitely recommend this book. If you’ve seen neither movie--you’re in luck. You get to go on a True Grit bender and read the book plus watch both films. Which is exactly what I get to do in the near future. I’m certain I will enjoy the experience because this story is fantastic. For now, let’s stay focused on the book.

It truly is rare to find a story where there is minimal action, much planning, a lot of dialogue, some horse-riding and camping, then a bit of fighting--yet you are still wrapped up in every word. Thus is the power of a great writer, and Mr. Portis has created a true masterpiece here. Mattie is unbelievably brave, absolutely unstoppable and amazingly determined throughout her journey. Rooster is the unlikeable hero you can’t help but respect and root for as the plot develops. What’s truly amazing about this story is just when you think it’s over--more peril comes into play for our hero Mattie. That’s even more deadly dangerous than what she’s already faced! The pace of the book, the clipped and direct voice of the writing, the wonderful characters, the build-up, the danger, the bravery, the’s all here and it all intertwines together to make a powerfully enjoyable story.

I highly recommend True Grit to mature readers, high school age and up. If you or someone you know likes westerns--read this immediately. But it’s also simply a great book that’s fairly quick and easy to read so you can enjoy it in no time. There is some violence, maybe a few bad words, a little mature content but nothing too offensive and nothing inappropriate. If you have the grit to follow Mattie on her journey, jump on your horse and ride!

Happy Reading!