Red at the Bone

Red at the Bone

by Jacqueline Woodson, Various (Read by)

Audio CD(Unabridged)

$30.00 View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Tuesday, November 19

Overview

Named one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2019 by LitHub and The Millions.

Called one of the Top 10 Literary Fiction titles of Fall by Publishers Weekly.

An extraordinary new novel about the influence of history on a contemporary family, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming.


Two families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. Moving forward and backward in time, with the power of poetry and the emotional richness of a narrative ten times its length, Jacqueline Woodson's extraordinary new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of this child.

As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody's coming of age ceremony in her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the soundtrack of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody's mother, for her own ceremony— a celebration that ultimately never took place.

Unfurling the history of Melody's parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they've paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives—even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.

Read by Jacqueline Woodson, with Quincy Tyler Bernstine (Sabe), Peter Francis James (Po’Boy), Shayna Small (Iris), and Bahni Turpin (Melody)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593147047
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/17/2019
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 309,472
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jacqueline Woodson is the bestselling author of more than two dozen award-winning books, including the 2016 New York Times–bestselling National Book Award finalist for adult fiction, Another Brooklyn. Among her many accolades, Woodson is a four-time National Book Award finalist, a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a two-time NAACP Image Award Winner, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her New York Times–bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, received the National Book Award in 2014. Woodson is also the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and the recipient of the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. In 2015, she was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She lives with her family in New York.

Read an Excerpt

1

 

But that afternoon there was an orchestra playing. Music filling the brownstone. Black fingers pulling violin bows and strumming cellos, dark lips around horns, a small brown girl with pale pink nails on flute. Malcolm's younger brother, his dark skin glistening, blowing somberly into a harmonica. A broad-shouldered woman on harp. From my place on the stairs, I could see through the windows curious white people stopping in front of the building to listen. And as I descended, the music grew softer, the lyrics inside my head becoming a whisper, I knew a girl named Nikki, guess you could say she was a sex fiend.

No vocalist. The little girl didn't know the words. The broad-shouldered woman, having once belted them out loud while showering, was now saved and refused to remember them. Iris wouldn't allow them to be sung and Malcolm's brother's sweet seven-year-old mouth was full. Still, they moved through my head as though Prince himself were beside me. I met her in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine.

And in the room, there was the pink and the green of my grandmother's sorority, the black and gold of my grandfather's Alpha brothers-gray-haired and straight-backed, flashing gold-capped teeth and baritone A-Phi-A! as I made my entrance. High-pitched calls of Skee-wee answering back to them. Another dream for me in their calling out to each other. Of course you're gonna pledge one day, my grandmother said to me over and over again. When I was a child, she surprised me once with a gift-wrapped hoodie, pale pink with My Grandmother Is An AKA in bright green letters. That's just legacy, Melody, she said. I pledged, your grandfather pledged-

 

Iris didn't.

 

A pause. Then quietly, her lips at my ear, That's because your mama isn't legacy.

This, I whispered back to her, quoting her sorority mantra, is a serious matter.

My grandmother laughed and laughed.

Look back at me on that last day in May. Finally sixteen and the moment like a hand holding me out to the world. Rain giving way to a spectacular sun. Its rays speckling through the stained glass, dancing off the hardwood floors. The orchestra's music lifting through the open windows and out over the block as though it had always belonged to the Brooklyn air. Look at me. Hair flat-ironed and curling over my shoulders. Red lipstick, charcoaled eyes. The dress, Iris's dress, unworn in her closet until that moment. Already, when it was time for her ceremony, I was on my way. Already, at nearly sixteen, her belly told a story a celebration never could. My grandfather's oversize dress shirts backdropping the baby fat still pouting her cheeks, the fine lanugo hair still clinging to the nape of her neck. Still, that afternoon, the years that separated us could have been fifty-Iris standing at the bottom of the stairs watching me. Me looking away from her. Where was I looking? At my father? My grandparents? At anything. At anyone. But her.

Earlier that day, she came into my room as I pulled stockings over my thighs, attempted to clip them to an ivory gartered corset. These too had once belonged to her-unworn, still boxed and wrapped with tissue paper. The fragile stocking struggling against being locked into the garter-this I had learned from my grandmother-and she from her mother and on back-mine the only ceremony skipping a generation of mothers showing daughters. This-the corset wearing, the garters, the silk stockings-was as old as the house my father and I shared with my grandparents. This ritual of marking class and time and transition stumbled back into the days of cotillions, then morphed and morphed again until it was this, some forgotten ancestor's gartered corset-and a pair of new silk stockings, delicate as dust.

I guess you win this round, she said. Prince it is.

I looked up at her. The evening before she'd twisted her hair into tight pin curls, and standing before me, she began to pull them loose, her thick reddish hair springing into coils down over her ears. The baby fat long gone from her cheeks, replaced by high, stunning bones. I pressed my hand against my own face, felt the same structure beneath my skin.

I didn't know it was a competition, Iris.

Once, a long time ago, she was Mommy and I held her neck, her arms, her belly tight with dimpled baby hands. I remember that. How I reached and reached and reached for her. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy.

The dress, white and unworn, lay spread out on the bed beside me. Behind it, a framed poster of Rage Against The Machine's 1997 concert. My father and I went because Wu-Tang was opening. I was twelve then and the two of us yelled and rapped and cheered so hard, we both stayed home the next day drinking lemon-honey tea to nurse our sore throats. The poster was professionally framed-the red letters against a gray matte, the oversize black frame picking up the muted colors of the black-and-white photograph. Beside it, another poster. If someone said choose between your mom and dad, I wouldn't need to blink. Wouldn't stutter. I'd run like a little kid and jump into my daddy's arms.

Feels like it's always a competition these days. Somewhere along the way, I became your enemy. She pressed her hand to her throat and held it there, her fingers gently moving across her collarbone as though she were checking to see if it remained intact. A gold bracelet slid down away from her wrist. Tiny diamonds catching the light. I swallowed, at once envying and adoring all the ways in which the word lovely could refer to my mother. So strange still, how different we were.

I had given up on trying to negotiate the stockings into the ridiculous garters and was just sitting there staring at her, elbows on my thighs, hands hanging down.

I don't get it. This is my ceremony and you're trying to be stuck about the music. You blew yours, remember-

No, the baby in my belly blew mine. Remember?

Don't even, Iris. Then for a moment, like so many times before this, I lost the words. Watched them drop . . . No. Dissipate . . . from the air between us. Dissipate. The word had shown up on my SAT prep tests again and again until it landed in this room with us. Between my mother. And me. Don't even. I didn't ask to be born. I didn't say-I didn't say do what you and my dad were doing. You could have waited.

Iris raised an eyebrow at me. I know you're not trying to have some kind of abstinence conversation with me.

You could have. There wasn't some rush to do what you guys did.

You mean have sex? Can you really not even say it? Sex, Melody. It's just a three-letter word.

I can say it. I just don't need to right now.

And if we had . . . waited, as you say. Where would you be?

You regret the hell out of me.

Don't curse. I don't regret you. I couldn't imagine this world without you in it.

Then what is it?

She came over to the bed, sat down on the other side of the dress, and ran her hand longingly over it. There were crocheted white flowers at the wrist. The attached train had alternating silk and satin panels. The seamstress had already been working on it for months before my grandparents found out Iris was pregnant. By the time she started showing, the dress was almost done and paid for.

 

I don't know . . . , she said more to the dress than to me. It's Prince. It's my parents. It's your father. It's me. It's you already sixteen now. Where did all those years go? It's crazy.

There was a catch in her voice I didn't want to hear. Didn't want to deal with. Not now. Not on my day.

It's just Prince, for fuck's sake! It's not like I'm asking to walk in to N.W.A. or Lil' Bow Wow-

Stop cursing, Melody. You're better than that. And N.W.A., Lil' whatever . . . I don't even know what you're saying. She didn't look at me, just continued to run her hand back and forth over the dress. We had the same fingers, long and thin. Piano fingers, people said. But only she played.

I'm just saying it's Prince. And it's my ceremony and he's a genius so why are we even still talking about it? You already nixed the words. Let me at least have the music. Daddy doesn't care. He likes Prince too. Jeez!

For too long we said nothing. There was something moving through me like a razor in my chest-I didn't know then if it was rage or sadness or fear. Maybe Iris felt it too because she moved closer to me, rested her hand on the back of my neck, and pressed her lips into my hair. I wanted more, though-a hug, a kindness whispered into my ear. I wanted her to tell me I was beautiful, that she didn't care what music played, that she loved me. I wanted her to laugh with me about the ridiculousness of garters and stockings.

But instead, she got up, went over to the window, and pulled the curtain back. She stared down at the block as she freed the rest of her curls. It was gray out, drizzling. Downstairs, the orchestra had arrived. I could hear bows being pulled across violins. Could hear my grandfather playing Monk on the piano and imagined his dark fingers, knotted at the knuckles.

Do you like Malcolm?

She turned back to me. Her skin creased at the brow, her eyes-eyes I'd prayed for as a child, Please God let me wake up with Mommy's pretty amber eyes-red-veined now. Please God don't ever let me have eyes like her eyes are right now.

Malcolm? Sure. Yeah. He's still such a sweetie. She looked at me, her mouth turning up into a half smile.

What?

What exactly are you asking me, Melody?

Do you like him . . . for me? Do you think he's a good- I don't know.

 

I looked up at her. Who else was there to ask who had lived through it all? From beginning to baby. First kiss to hands on a body to sex. How did you even begin it? Keep it going? Wasn't it supposed to be now that she gave me the answers. Told me everything?

You guys have known each other since you were in diapers and he's always been . . . I mean, isn't he?

Isn't he what?

Nothing. Never mind. She put her hands up, surrendering. He seems, she said again, smiling. You just don't seem . . . his type.

Like you would know anything about him. Or me.

Like I said, I've known that boy since he was in diapers.

Yeah, Iris. Both of us were in diapers a long time ago.

We got quiet. Maybe all over the world there were daughters who knew their mothers as young girls and old women, inside and out, deep. I wasn't one of them. Even when I was a baby, my memory of her is being only halfway here.

I hid you from them, you know, she said-like she was looking into my head finally. Seeing something there. That's how you got here. They were hella good Catholics back then, but you would have been dust.

From who?

Whom, Melody. It's whom.

I was starting to sweat beneath the corset.

Your grandparents. Your beloved grandparents.

You didn't know. You told me you didn't know.

I never said I didn't know. I said I didn't know what to do.

She stopped talking suddenly and looked at me. Hard.

Is your period regular?

What . . . yeah! What the heck, Iris?

She exhaled. Shook her head. Okay, so if you have a regular period and then it just stops and it's not stopping because you're suddenly a super athlete or something-then you're probably pregnant. I'm just saying that to you in case no one else does-

I covered my ears. I'm good. Don't need to hear this. Not today. Not from you. Thanks.

No one ever said it to me. That's why I'm saying it to you. We can talk about this. By the time I was four months pregnant, what I didn't know was that on the other side of pregnancy there was Motherhood.

Of course it was, I said.

Of course it is, she said. I know that now.

How could you not know- You know what- Never mind. I don't get you.

The orchestra was warming up with "Jeannine, I Dream of Lilac Time." I could hear my grandfather singing the words along with Malcolm's little brother. One voice high. The other low. One voice young and unsure, the other old and clear and deep. I closed my eyes for a minute. The song was older than everyone in the house. When the trumpeter picked up a solo and the music lifted past where the voices had just been, I felt like my ribs were shattering. There was so much in all of it. Just. So. Much. I wanted to say to Iris, It all feels like it's trying to drift out into somebody's eternity. But when I looked up at her again, she was biting the edge of her thumbnail, her left eyebrow jumping the way it did when she was stressing.

I told Aubrey, she said, moving her finger away from her mouth and studying it. And then both of us made believe it wasn't happening for a few months. Because we were kids thinking that if we ignored it, it would go away. I hid you until I couldn't anymore, wearing your granddad's button-down shirts, telling him it was the style.

Did you want to miscarry me?

I was a child, Melody. I was younger than you are now! I wanted to see you born. I wanted to hold you. I was stunned that it was true-that you could have sex with someone and that sex could make another human.

I tried to imagine her in my grandfather's clothes. Everything about her was feminine and tailored and perfect. Everything about her felt the opposite of me. I could imagine me in my grandfather's clothes. But not her.

I wanted you. I wanted you growing in my body, I wanted you in my arms, I wanted you over my shoulder-

She got quiet.

And then the wanting was gone, wasn't it?

She shook her head. More time passed before she spoke again.

It wasn't gone. Just different. You're going to learn this. I mean, I hope you learn this. Love changes and changes. Then it changes again. Today, the love is me wanting to see you in that dress, she said. I want to see me in you because Me in that dress was over a long time ago. Sixteen was gone. Then seventeen, eighteen-all of it.

Reading Group Guide

1. In Red at the Bone, two families from different social classes are brought together by an unexpected pregnancy. How do you think the lives of the characters—from each family—might have been different if Melody had never been conceived? Which characters gained or lost the most, ultimately, as a result of this unplanned child? Consider all the many ways in which their fortunes were altered.

2. Consider the title and how it works with the story. Why do you think the author chose it? What does the phrase mean to you?

3. The author dedicates the book to “the ancestors, a long long line of you bending and twisting.” How does the story explore the idea of legacy? How does it look at the passing down of regret and loss and trauma and history, and also of love and guidance and wisdom and experience? Discuss your own legacies: What have you inherited in this way from your ancestors, and what will be passed on to future generations? How do these legacies compare to the legacies in Red at the Bone?

4. The story begins and ends in Brooklyn, but incorporates the stories of how both Iris and Aubrey’s families came to live there, and also watches Iris experiment with living elsewhere. In your own experience, how strong or important is the connection between people and place? Do you think people and their lives are shaped by their relationships with the places they are from and their feelings about home? Do you see this illustrated in the story, in any particular characters or storylines? What do you think of Iris’s decision to stay away from her family? Can you empathize with her?

5. The theme of mothers and daughters is one that plays throughout the book, and we begin and end the novel with Iris and Melody. How would you describe their relationship? Do you think their relationship has progressed, regressed, or otherwise changed by the conclusion of the novel? In what ways are Iris and Melody similar and in what ways are they different?

6. When Aubrey first brings Iris to his house, he feels a kind of shame about his mother and his way of life that he never experienced before. Consider the different ways in which Aubrey and Iris’s class differences manifest within their relationship. How do those differences affect their relationship as teenagers? As adults? How do other characters in the novel grapple with their class? Consider the upbringings of CathyMarie, Aubrey, Sabe, Melody, and Iris. What do you think the novel is saying about the relationship between race, class, and education?

7. Some of the big historic events that happen in the background of the narrative include the Tulsa massacre of 1921, the crack epidemic of the 1980s and ’90s, and the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001. How does the author use these events in the book? What do they provide to the structure of the story and time line? What do they contribute to our emotional understanding of the characters? Are the individual characters changed by these events? Do you see this history influencing their outlooks and their ambitions or their legacies? As a child Iris fought with Sabe about the Tulsa story, claiming it wasn’t her history. Is Iris right? Can history truly belong to someone? And who is allowed to tell the story?

8. Discuss the use of musical references in the novel. How does “Darling Nikki” shape our impression of Melody in the first chapter? How does music aid in telling the stories of the other characters and their respective generations: Sabe and Po’Boy? Iris and Aubrey? Slip Rock and CathyMarie?

9. What do we learn about the characters from the way they show their love to each other: From Aubrey’s love of his mother? From Iris’s love of Jam? From Sabe’s love of Po’Boy? From Melody’s love of Malcolm, and vice versa? How does time away from the loved one affect that love? Are there right ways and wrong ways to love, and if so, who exemplifies them within the novel?

10. What do you think the author is saying, ultimately, about generational trauma? Sabe declares: “I carry the goneness. Iris carries the goneness. And watching her walk down those stairs, I know now that my grandbaby [Melody] carries the goneness too.” What do you think she means by this? How does this goneness affect their lives and relationships with others? Is there an opposite to goneness, and if so, is it achievable for any of the characters?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Red at the Bone: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I'm in shock how she conveyed so much emotion and full blown descriptions of each character in such a slim novel that covered 16 years. Absolutely a must read.
LeslieLindsay 12 days ago
Beneath the trouble, lies a very powerful and poignant tale about race and class, ambition, and more. RED AT THE BONE is destined to become a classic The thing with 'classic' literature is that it is typically polarizing; that is, not everyone is going to love it, there will be themes that make readers squirm, that make us uncomfortable. Classic literature does that. That's exactly what we'll find in this bestseller from Jacqueline Woodson, RED AT THE BONE (September 17 2019). Told in a forward-and-backward momentum, Woodson tells the story of two African American families from different social classes who come together because of a teen pregnancy and the child it produces. We begin with a sixteen-year-old's coming-of-age party in somewhat contemporary (2001) times. Melody is that baby from sixteen years ago, when her mother was an unmarried pregnant teen. Adoring relatives look on, but what we don't know is the pain each of them has carried. Unfurling through time, we 'meet' Melody's parents and grandparent's their hopes, dreams, fears, and regrets all come to life, touching on themes of ambition, education, sexual desire, class, race, status, and more. Ultimately, we get the POV of six characters: Melody, her (teen) mother Iris, (teen) father Aubrey, CathyMarie (Aubrey's mother), and Po'Boy and Sabre (maternal grandparents). BUT--what's bit confusing is, at first, we don't know who any of these characters are, their stories and voices tend to run together, without any delineation as to who's who. Once I got beyond this, character arcs seemed to materialize and I became wholly engaged in the story. Woodson writes with a sparse but lush and poetic hand, her details are spot-on, the way her eye sees the world is so psychologically and aesthetically astute. RED AT THE BONE is a story that will stay with me for a long time--not so much in terms of plot, but in the sense of imagery and how it made me feel. I found some similarities between RED AT THE BONE and Jody Piccoult's SMALL GREAT THINGS meets Pamela Erens' ELEVEN HOURS with a touch of Tayari Jones's AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE. L.Lindsay|Always with a Book
Anonymous 13 days ago
The gold and glimmer isn't only a heritage, it's a way to look at people and families and those who love us. I've never read a novel as short as this one that touched me to the bone.
miss_mesmerized 25 days ago
When Iris gets pregnant at the age of fifteen, she only takes in the fact that she and her boyfriend Aubrey are going to have a baby. What this really means for her life, she cannot assess at that moment. Sixteen years later, her daughter Melody is having her coming-of-age-party wearing the dress that was once meant for her mother. Not just Iris’s life takes another road with the unexpected kid, also her parents’ plans and of course those of Aubrey and his family change due to the new situation and all of them also have to face the world outside their family bubbly where not everybody is totally understanding. A novel about family bonds and about what influence a single human being can have on how you live your life. Jacqueline Woodson has chosen a discontinuous mode of narration. Not only does she spring back and forward chronologically, but she also gives different characters a voice and also has a 3rd person narrator tell parts of the plot. This makes the whole story quite lively and often unexpected because at the beginning of each chapter you do not know where you are starting from and who is addressing you. There are some central topics focussed on, first of all, of course, the teenager falling pregnant. The family manages the situation perfectly, no major fight or disruption arises from Iris’s decision to keep the baby, but it is hard to read about the reactions of her friends and school, even though I would classify it as highly authentic. The only person really struggling with the new-born, yet, is Iris who can never really bond with her daughter. She puts some effort in their relationship, but it is simply never enough and she most certainly suffers from the chances that she in her own perception never had in her life due to becoming a mother that early – admittedly, I had the impression that life could be much worse under these circumstances and Iris had a lot of opportunities to fulfil her dreams. Another aspect are the class-related and skin-colour attributed options in life. These do not determine the characters’ fate, yet provide some food for thought as do family relations in general in the novel. The novel offers a lot of blind spots, leaves gaps that you have to fill on your own due to the structure of the narration. I actually liked it because it makes you think on after reading and sticking with the book much longer. I also enjoyed Jacqueline Woodson’s style e of writing which is well adapted to the different characters and authentic.
TUDORQUEEN 4 months ago
I was intrigued by the concept of this story involving a black family. It begins with a sixteen year old girl named Melody majestically descending her staircase accompanied by an orchestra, wearing a beautiful white "coming out" dress that once belonged to her mother Iris...but she never got to wear...because she got pregnant with Melody at the age of 15. Melody's father Aubrey is so overcome with pride that the tears pour helplessly down his face, and he's flummoxed as to what to do with his hands. He's my favorite character in the book. Aubrey came from meager financial beginnings, but has all the right values. He did well in school and got a job in an accounting firm, and moved in with Iris and her parents during the pregnancy. He was content with simplicity while Iris always wanted more. Ironically enough, it was Aubrey's mother that pushed Iris to continue her education, and she eventually moved away to board at college. Iris felt exhilarated to be so far away and experience the freedom of life at college. Aubrey was left behind with Melody, who (on the few occasions she saw her) called her mother Iris instead of Mom. Aubrey clearly yearned for Iris, but Iris had other designs on life. The chapters are each narrated by different characters in the book, but their names aren't posted under the chapter numbers, so it was always disorienting to try to get a handle on who was talking. Other than this downfall, the writing was of high quality. On the positive side, I was encouraged to read a story about a child that was mistakenly conceived but got to be born, and was loved fiercely by the father and Iris's parents. The irony was that although Iris insisted on having and keeping the child, she later became very detached from her. For me the redeeming force in the book was Aubrey, who rose from living with his single mother in a roach infested apartment to be a fine man. He did everything right; he worked hard at school, got a decent job and absolutely adored his daughter. The teenage pregnancy was a shock, but Aubrey was present for his family. His love for Iris was unrequited, and I mourned for this good man. I found the character of Iris to be selfish and determined, and in sharp relief to Aubrey who valued the precious gift of Melody. Thank you to Riverhead Books / Penguin Publishing Group who provided an advance reader copy via Edelweiss.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Achingly beautiful tale of family woven through time told from many points of view. Jacqueline Woodson's words stay with you long after you've finished the book.
Meag 4 months ago
That Jacqueline Woodson is a wordsmith is no secret, and her ability to tell the stories of often ignored people (and to tell them so well) is second to none. Red at the Bone jumps through time and across five different characters with five very distinct voices, and somehow it works beautifully. It is a thorough portrait of how an unplanned pregnancy affects the lives of not just the parents, but family members and the baby itself. And it manages to elicit so many emotions in only 200 pages. I repeat, it's only 200 pages, so if you're hesitant to read it, just give it a shot. It'll be over before you know it (and you'll probably be wishing for more).
DeediReads 4 months ago
Wow. This book. What did we ever do to you, Jacqueline Woodson?? How can you be allowed to just swoop in there, break our hearts ten times in ten different ways, and then just leave?? So beautiful. Red at the Bone centers on one family, although it’s tough to say who the main character is. Perhaps it’s Iris, who shocked her family by having a baby at the age of sixteen. But the story opens on that child’s 16th birthday, and she and every one of her family members — her mother, her father, her grandfather, her grandmother — gets a first-person perspective, plus some third-person along the way. Woodson dives in and out of these characters’ heads and hearts, pulling at their lives and experiences in a way that gives you the most complete family portrait of all time. The story isn’t told linearly; we bounce around from past to present and then jump ahead, we get layers on layers. And while it isn’t long (only 208 pages and an audiobook run time of about four hours), this story will stay with you for a long time. It’s absolutely astounding how much of an impact Jacqueline Woodson can have on your heart in so few pages, and how full and beautiful she can make so many characters. She’s the best for a reason. The voice cast of the audiobook was also phenomenal. I usually like to listen to nonfiction and read fiction, because I like to spend more time savoring the words in fiction. But I’m so glad I listened to this one. It was emotional and very well done.
mudder17 4 months ago
Wow. So much emotion in such few pages. So hard to review right now because I'm still recovering from the emotion of the ending. Some sadness here, yes. But also love. And hope. This book is written from the point of view of five members of the family, although it begins with the youngest member at her 16th "Coming Out" party. The story does not follow linear time, and instead, each story adds another layer to this family and you feel like you get to know "their story" and who they are with every telling. There is pain, but there is also healing. Also covered are topics of racism, teen pregnancy, lgtbq, reconciliation, and life decisions and how they can change the course of your life. But through all of this, is the love this family has for each other and being able to hold your head up high. I highly recommend this book and feel like I've missed out on an amazing author. I will be checking out other books by her! Special thanks to #NetGalley, #JacquelineWoodson, and #PenguinBookRiverhead for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
leslielb 4 months ago
I received a copy from NetGalley for an honest opinion. I've just finished this book, rather quickly. I'm not sure what to say. In the beginning, it was all over the place and I wasn't sure i would finish it. Then, it got better, and I read it in a hurry to see the end. It's all about choices and family and who really is and what makes a family. Does having a baby make you a mother? Or is it about who does the job? Are you with someone forever that you have a baby with? How do families come to terms with teenagers having babies? This one is a fairly quick read, once it gets going. Sometimes you have to read back to figure out who is talking. I recommend this as a quick read on the beach or the deck. 3 stars, because i felt it still needed some editing.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Red at the Bone is a multifaceted tale of generations of an African-American family. Woodson has created lyrical prose in its finest and adeptly moves the story back and forth through multiple time periods. The story explores multiple, powerful and poignant themes, including racism, class disparity, teen pregnancy, and family dynamics. It is a tale of what it means to grow up and how the outcome one’s rash decisions can have lifetime consequences. Beautifully told and exquisitely written. Many thanks to Netgalley, Riverhead Books and Jacqueline Woodson for my complimentary e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Red at the Bone is a multifaceted tale of generations of an African-American family. Woodson has created lyrical prose in its finest and adeptly moves the story back and forth through multiple time periods. The story explores multiple, powerful and poignant themes, including racism, class disparity, teen pregnancy, and family dynamics. It is a tale of what it means to grow up and how the outcome one’s rash decisions can have lifetime consequences. Beautifully told and exquisitely written. Many thanks to Netgalley, Riverhead Books and Jacqueline Woodson for my complimentary e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Alfoster 5 months ago
Lots of themes in this beautifully crafted novel by Woodson. It's the eve of Melody's party and as her parents and grandparents stand around to admire her, we move from present to past and learn the history of this family, their hardships, their failures, and their successes. And even though the novel is only 200 pages, it is filled with pathos and poignant moments as each member struggles with issues of class, identity, and sexual awakening. It's one of those books to savor long after the final page has been read. Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
Cortingbooks 5 months ago
“Guess that’s where the tears came from, knowing that there’s so much in this great big world that you don’t have a single ounce of control over.” Let’s take a trip down memory lane... Melody is a lost girl. Carrying a burden she never asked for. Aubrey is a lost man. Trying to make every thing right but failing again and again. Iris is a lost woman. Trying to get back the time she feels she lost. Woodson gives us glimpses of the choices made by each of these characters in the past and how it impacts their future. Red at the Bone is a beautifully haunting story about regrets, heartbreak, and loss that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. A short but powerful read.