Red at the bone

Jacqueline Woodson

Book - 2019

"Two familes from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. 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 music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured an...d sewn for a different wearer: Melody's mother, for her own ceremony-- a celebration that ultimately never took place"--Adapted from jacket.

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Subjects
Genres
Bildungsromans
Domestic fiction
Novels
Published
New York : Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC 2019.
Language
English
Physical Description
196 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN
9780525535270
0525535276
Main Author
Jacqueline Woodson (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

When Woodson's (Another Brooklyn, 2016) emotionally rich third adult novel opens, it's early in the new millennium and Melody is the age her mother, Iris, was when she had her, but doing something Iris never got to do: making a grand entrance at her sixteenth-birthday party in Iris' parents' Brooklyn brownstone. Melody has lived her whole life in Sabe and Po'Boy's home along with her dad, Aubrey, while Iris—whom Melody has called by her first name for as long as she can remember—pursued an independent life, first at Oberlin and then in Manhattan. Time flips forward and back as chapters alternate among the perspectives of Melody, Iris, Aubrey, Sabe, and Po'Boy, their stories interlocking and tunneling through one another for a clear and fuller picture of their family, and all that Melody's pivotal arrival brought to it. Woodson channels deeply true-feeling characters, all of whom readers will empathize with in turn. In spare, lean prose, she reveals rich histories and moments in swirling eddies, while also leaving many fateful details for readers to divine. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

When Woodson's (Another Brooklyn, 2016) emotionally rich third adult novel opens, it's early in the new millennium and Melody is the age her mother, Iris, was when she had her, but doing something Iris never got to do: making a grand entrance at her sixteenth-birthday party in Iris' parents' Brooklyn brownstone. Melody has lived her whole life in Sabe and Po'Boy's home along with her dad, Aubrey, while Iris—whom Melody has called by her first name for as long as she can remember—pursued an independent life, first at Oberlin and then in Manhattan. Time flips forward and back as chapters alternate among the perspectives of Melody, Iris, Aubrey, Sabe, and Po'Boy, their stories interlocking and tunneling through one another for a clear and fuller picture of their family, and all that Melody's pivotal arrival brought to it. Woodson channels deeply true-feeling characters, all of whom readers will empathize with in turn. In spare, lean prose, she reveals rich histories and moments in swirling eddies, while also leaving many fateful details for readers to divine. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Oft-crowned children's/YA author Woodson, whose recent adult novel, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist, opens this adult title with Melody celebrating her 16th birthday at her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone. Melody's mother never did get her own 16th birthday party, and therein lies a tale of two families separated by class, ambition, gentrification, sexual desire, and unexpected parenthood. The publisher's top fall fiction title. Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Woodson's beautifully imagined novel (her first novel for adults since 2016's Another Brooklyn) explores the ways an unplanned pregnancy changes two families. The narrative opens in the spring of 2001, at the coming-of-age party that 16-year-old Melody's grandparents host for her at their Brooklyn brownstone. A family ritual adapted from cotillion tradition, the event ushers Melody into adulthood as an orchestra plays Prince and her "court" dances around her. Amid the festivity, Melody and her family—her unmarried parents, Iris and Aubrey, and her maternal grandparents, Sabe and Sammy "Po'Boy" Simmons, think of both past and future, delving into extended flashbacks that comprise most of the text. Sabe is proud of the education and affluence she has achieved, but she remains haunted by stories of her family's losses in the fires of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. The discovery that her daughter, Iris, was pregnant at 15 filled her with shame, rage, and panic. After the birth of Melody, Iris, uninterested in marrying mail-room clerk Aubrey, pined for the freedom that her pregnancy curtailed. Leaving Melody to be raised by Aubrey, Sabe, and Po'Boy, she departed for Oberlin College in the early '90s and, later, to a Manhattan apartment that her daughter is invited to visit but not to see as home. Their relationship is strained as Melody dons the coming-out dress her mother would have worn if she hadn't been pregnant with Melody. Woodson's nuanced voice evokes the complexities of race, class, religion, and sexuality in fluid prose and a series of telling details. This is a wise, powerful, and compassionate novel. (Sept.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

As Melody celebrates a coming of age ceremony at her grandparents’ house in 2001 Brooklyn, her family remembers 1985, when Melody’s own mother prepared for a similar party that never took place in this novel about different social classes. (general fiction). (This book was listed in a previous issue of Forecast.)

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Two families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. 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 music 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"--Adapted from jacket.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR "A spectacular novel that only this legend can pull off." -Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of  HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST, in The Atlantic "An exquisite tale of family legacy….The power and poetry of Woodson’s writing conjures up Toni Morrison." – People  "In less than 200 sparsely filled pages, this book manages to encompass issues of class, education, ambition, racial prejudice, sexual desire and orientation, identity, mother-daughter relationships, parenthood and loss….With Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson has indeed risen — even further into the ranks of great literature." – NPR   "This poignant tale of choices and their aftermath, history and legacy, will resonate with mothers and daughters." –Tayari Jones, bestselling author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, in O Magazine An unexpected teenage pregnancy pulls together two families from different social classes and explores their histories – reaching back to the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 -- and exposes the private hopes, disappointments, and longings that can bind or divide us from each other, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming.   Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson's taut and powerful 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 the new 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 music 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 family – reaching back to the Tulsa race massacre in 1921 -- 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.