Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson | Riverhead Books {Book Review}

book review of Red at the Bone

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Book Summary:

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.

Publication Date:

September 17th, 2019

Genre:

Literary Fiction

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

audiobook recommendation

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!

The Better Together Book Club | Charlotte, Vermont Public Library | A Motherhood Book Group

motherhood book club book selection

Connections Through Reading

One of the most wonderful parts of the online reading community is the connections I have made through it. I have met book lovers from all over the world as well as in our very small state of Vermont. While I love the reach online connections can allow you, there is something so special about connecting in person.

Better Together A Motherhood Book Club

Last spring I had the idea of starting a local book club centering around issues that are not only a big part of my life but so many of the women around me. Through the help and support of our local library, this dream has become a reality.  The Better Together Book Club is a book group focusing on motherhood and will be starting this fall!

motherhood book club

The Better Together Book Club

My friend, reader, fellow mom and elementary school Literacy Coach/Specialist Kelly and I are delighted to be co-facilitating this group together! We have been working hard behind the scenes and couldn’t be more excited to finally be making this public! Information went out in the Charlotte Library Newsletter yesterday so we thought it was the perfect time to share online as well.

Book selections will change monthly and will be a mix of fiction and nonfiction, including topics pertaining to parenting, marriage, mental health, self-care and the work/life “balance”. We will meet and discuss the book and topics relating to it as well as enjoying some tea and light snacks. We are also so honored that we already have some of the authors scheduled to come when we discuss their book!

Our First Book Club Selection

Our first book club selection will be To Have and To Hold. While I am lucky to have had many conversations with the people in my personal life, never have I read something that explains the complexities of motherhood and marriage in such a profound manner until I read this book. The highs and lows of parenthood, the immense love and also the intense quest to reclaim ourselves as women and partners when our lives will never be the same are so real and valid.

Author Molly Millwood will join the discussion on Thursday, October 10 @ 7:00pm.  Books are available for loan at the circulation desk. Registration is required by contacting Susanna or Margaret at the Charlotte Library at info@charlottepubliclibrary.org Once the spots are full a waitlist will be started. While this event is open to anyone in the area, priority will be given to Charlotte residents if a waitlist occurs.

Hardcopy & Ebook Copies

Charlotte librarians Susanna and Margaret have been so amazing at helping get this group up and running with us. Our October book, To Have and To Hold, is now available as a “Charlotte Only” book on Libby (which decreases the wait time significantly!). They also ordered 10 copies of To Have and To Hold which will be available at the library for pick up after Labor Day!

Book Club Ongoing Schedule & Communication

After our first event, The Better Together Book Club will continue to meet monthly at The Charlotte Library the second Wednesday of every month from 7:00-8:30pm.  Subsequent books will be available a month before each book club so everyone has time to read them. All announcements will be shared and in our private facebook group which you can be added to once you are registered.

If you live in the area, we would love to have you join us! If you don’t, we would love it if you would like to follow along. We plan on sharing updates about each book club on my blog which will include our discussion questions and highlights of our discussion. I will also announce the next book we will be discussing at that time.

I just talked with Susanna and we only have a few spots left so if you are interested, shoot them an email at info@charlottepubliclibrary.org to register! And please feel free to email or comment below with any questions. **Update, as of 8/30/19 there is a waitlist for this group**

 

 

Dominicana by Angie Cruz | Flatiron Books | Book Review

book review of Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Book Summary:

“Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up within the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.

As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.

In bright, musical prose that reflects the energy of New York City, Angie Cruz’s Dominicana is a vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.”

Publication Date:

September 3rd, 2019

book review of Dominicana by Angie Cruz

(I bought my own hard copy from Book of The Month and as it was available early through their August 2019 book selections. You can get your first Book of the Month book for FREE by using my referral link HERE.)

Genre:

Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Immigrant Fiction & Coming of Age Fiction

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

My Review:

Dominicana is a coming of age story that is set in NYC in the turbulent and bustling 1960s. Angie Cruz shares a remarkable story about a young girl named Ana. At 15, Ana was forced to marry a man twice her age and move from the Dominican Republic to America…with her family’s hope, she could achieve the “American Dream”.

Upon her arrival, Ana ends up finding herself isolated from her family and at the mercy of a husband who neither seems to care for her or her needs. While this was a heartbreaking story in many ways, it was also a tale of strength, persistence, and resilience.

I loved that Cruz chose to share this story from the point of view of Ana. While it was very clear she was a teenager in many ways, she has this introspection that made her wise beyond her years. I loved watching her learn how to exert her own independence in difficult situations when the hits just kept on coming. The connection between Ana and her doll Dominicana was just so beautiful and heartbreaking and added so much to the story for me.

This book follows her as blooms both literally and figuratively into the self-assured women she was meant to become. She is able to find joy in the darkest times and I loved the feeling of lightness she was able to find when she spent time with her brother in law. Ana was able to just be without the constraints of other’s expectations or the brutal reality of her marriage to Juan.

This was one of those books that I enjoyed reading but found it even more thought-provoking and powerful once I finished and reflected upon it. I think it would make a wonderful book club selection and I look forward to following more of Angie Cruz’ writing in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for an advanced ebook copy of this book.