The protagonist of the novel, sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly is the primary breadwinner for and caretaker of her family. Stubborn, resilient, and introspective, Ree is charged with the task of turning up her missing father Jessup… read analysis of Ree Dolly
Ree’s younger brother, a tough and hostile boy. He is ten years old, but already has a sense of responsibility and initiative, and is often shown to be itching to prove his maturity. He… read analysis of Sonny Dolly
Ree’s father, a well-known crystal meth cook. Though he is not physically present in the novel, his absence drives the narrative. Before the start of the novel, in order to get himself out of… read analysis of Jessup Dolly
Ree’s uncle and Jessup’s brother, nicknamed Teardrop for the teardrop prison tattoos on his face. A fearsome figure and crystal meth cook, Teardrop seems at first to be the novel’s antagonist. His violent… read analysis of Uncle Teardrop
Thump Milton’s wife and the leader of a violent attack against Ree; she eventually brings Ree to her father Jessup’s body. Merab is tough but practical, and though her actions are brutal… read analysis of Merab
A member of Ree’s extended family, he brings her to a long-ago-exploded meth lab in an attempt to deceive her into believing her father died there. Later, he offers to take in one of… read analysis of Blond Milton
Ree’s youngest brother, eight years old and only eighteen months younger than Sonny. He tries desperately to be as tough as his older brother, but is much more sensitive.
Ree’s mother. The victim of a nameless mental illness, she has difficulty speaking. She spends much of her time seemingly trapped inside her own head, and throughout the novel experiences only a few small moments of clarity and coherence.
Blond Milton’s wife and one of Ree’s cousins and neighbors. On several occasions throughout the novel she offers Ree help, food, and, in the wake of Ree’s attack at the hands of the Thump clan, painkillers.
A crank cook and a volatile acquaintance of Ree’s father Jessup. Ree goes to him to seek answers to Jessup’s whereabouts, but the meeting ends only in harsh words and threats of violence.
A police officer who visits Ree on several occasions to apprise her of Jessup’s disappearance and bond. Eventually, Ree delivers her father’s severed hands to Baskin as proof of Jessup’s death and the bond’s status as null and void.
Jessup’s former mistress. Ree and Gail travel to the Arkansas state line in order to ask April whether she knows anything of Jessup’s whereabouts.
Teardrop’s third and fifth wife, a warm and kind woman. Ree looks up to her.
Gail’s husband. He is an unfaithful and controlling partner.
Gail and Floyd’s infant son.
The fearsome leader of the Thump clan of the Hawkfall valley.
One of Ree’s distant cousins from Hawkfall who eventually becomes complicit in the attack against her.
The bondsman looking to collect on Jessup’s bail.