Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
An unexpected teenage pregnancy pulls together two families from different social classes, 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 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.
September 17th, 2019
The hard copy of Red at the Bone is patiently waiting in my October TBR pile but that stack is getting pretty big…So a couple of weeks ago I looked on the Libby App (you can read more about the Libby App on my blog post about Kindle e-readers HERE) and our library recently purchased a copy of the audiobook so the wait was only 2 weeks. I listened to this one yesterday (clocking it at 3.5 hours it was totally doable!) and wow!
This was an amazingly beautiful audiobook and the four narrators along with Jacqueline Woodson were just incredible. I love stories that bring us back to how someone arrived at a poignant moment in time. Red at the Bone moves back and forth with different timelines to include stories of the main character’s family members and flowed very easily for me as a listener.
The perspectives on life, parenthood, identity, race, class, and self-discovery are raw, powerful, thought-provoking and also heartwarming. While this book is on the shorter side, it packs a punch. Woodson’s writing evokes emotion and I love that she had each multi-faceted character speak for themselves which I think added so much depth and perspective. I highly recommend this and it was just wonderful on audio!