A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Fourteen year old Mattie Ross is an independent, strong-willed girl determined to seek justice against the man who killed her father. In a drunken argument, Tom Chaney shot an unarmed Frank Ross, then took his horse as well as $150 in cash. Mattie travels to take care of her father’s body, settle his remaining business and then sets her mind to pursuing Chaney with the toughest U.S. Marshal she can find, a man with “true grit,” as she says.
Despite several obstacles and adults attempting to pull one over on her, Mattie is much cleverer than anyone anticipates and she finally heads out in search of Chaney. Although they have attempted to prevent her from coming along, Mattie’s persistence convinces U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn and Texas Ranger LaBeouf to accept her presence on the journey.
Portis’ writing style is naturally Western, and the character’s voices are vivid while reading. Mattie Ross is an impressive protagonist, constantly underestimated because of her age and gender but she proves herself an intelligent and capable young woman time and again. She can be stubborn to a fault, but has an unwavering sense of morality and abundant self-confidence.
True Grit makes for a good introduction to the Western genre. Its mix of adventure and humor, with a memorable cast of characters, makes for a quick and enjoyable read.
Review by Rachel