by Charles Portis

Reviewer Rating:


True Grit by Charles Portis, first published in 1968, is the perfect starting block from which to begin an exploration into the Western genre. Having been adapted into two films (1969 starring John Wayne, and 2010 by Joel and Ethan Coen), the book is worth reading regardless of having seen either film.

Mattie Ross is the main character. Her mission is to avenge the murder of her father. Ross hires "Rooster" Cogburn, a shoot-first-talk-later US Marshal to help her track down Tom Chaney, her father's murderer. She meets a clean-cut Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf, who is also on Chaney's track (from prior crimes). Ross insists upon accompanying the men on the hunt, even after several of their attempts to lose her on the trail. The story ends with all three capturing Chaney and surviving, although not entirely in one piece. We find that the "true grit" Ross employs is actually within herself.

This book's ending is violent, and therefore fit for adults and mature teens only. Easy to understand with simple language, the plot and characters carry the story. Interesting things to pay attention to: the main character's rationalization of breaking of gender norms (published in 1968), the other characters' intense regard of those gender norms, the race and ethnicity of the "bad guys."

Check it out:


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