By Katherine Faw Morris
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2014
A short blistering novel about a 13-year old girl, Nikki, who sets out to prove herself in rural North Carolina.
After Nikki’s mom accidentally dies while she is jumping off a waterfall, Nikki moves in with her dad, Coy Hawkins, who is just out of jail for dealing coke, and now deals in whores and heroin. They live together in a trailer outside of town and although she is only 13, Nikki dives right in to her father’s deviant lifestyle, in an attempt to outdo him in his own criminal ways.
The writing in this book is sharp and poetic. At only 20,000 words Morris is a master at distilling action and emotion. But this book is not for everyone. I would describe it as a rewriting of Winter’s Bone in which the dad is the one left behind. And in it we see all the trouble a girl can get into with a compassless father. The book got widely reviewed and is praised for its depiction of a girl who takes charge of her life. I agree that it does that, but at times the violence is so raw and senseless that it made me cringe. But I enjoyed the read for Morris’s poetic writing and her courage to let Nikki run wild.
Morris is from North Carolina and now lives in New York.