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Red at the Bone

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  3,042 ratings  ·  676 reviews
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 brow
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Riverhead Books
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Average rating 4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,042 ratings  ·  676 reviews

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Nilufer Ozmekik
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finally my soul landed on a poignant, beautifully written, emotional, heart-warming story. When this year’s fiction books suffer from lack of creativity and mostly published by commercial success, it is normal to fall everything under your expectations. I loved “Nickel Boys”, “Woman is no Man”, “Ask Again Yes” so much, but lately I haven’t found any gem as marvelous as them till I read this book and now I’m happy to announce this is one of the best fictions of this year (Probably it will compete ...more
Angela M
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To say that Jacqueline Woodson is gifted story teller who writes beautifully almost feels like faint praise. The story begins with Melody, celebrating her sixteenth birthday, walking down the stairs in her grandparents brownstone, reaching a milestone in this present moment moving toward her future. In alternating narratives, moving back and forth in time, Woodson reflects on the pasts of Melody’s mother Iris, her father Aubrey, her grandmother Sabe and grandfather Sammy Po’Boy and the things th ...more
Chaima ✨ شيماء
Name a more iconic duo than a pretty cover and the impulsive need to buy stuff when you’re sad. I'll wait.
Diane S ☔
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lor-2019
I loved it. Loved everything about this book. The gorgeous prose. The way in just a relatively few pages, Woodsen managed to flesh out her characters, making them autentic people. The themes explored. Themes of mother, daughter relationships, teenage pregnant, ambition, fatherhood and sexual identity. The many different emotions she manages to provoke, emotions that changed as the story progressed. How young people make decisions about their lives, things that will affect them in the future, not ...more
This pogo-sticker is hoppin’ and she’s not stoppin’!

This book, oh this book! A jazzy story with heart and smarts, it’s got me hoppin’ to the tune of 5+ stars! Where has this phenomenal writer been all my life? Oh what she can do with words!

This wasn’t a book that took a while to draw me in. I started reading, and POW, I was immediately in love. The language! It grabbed me fast and it held me tight. It’s poetic without being flowery. It’s jazzy, with an intense pulse and a cadence that makes my
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this!
This story is about two urban black families and shifts around in time and is told by the points of view of each of the five characters.
An unplanned teenage pregnancy and how their lives go forward for a young couple, the daughter they bring forth, and the maternal grandparents.
It is poetic and dramatic and I just couldn’t stop reading!

This is the third book I’ve read by this author... I need to read her others.
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lyrical, poignant, powerful, Red at the bone by Jacqueline Woodson will mesmerize you with its spellbinding tale how people from different origins and backgrounds come together, love, create a new life, stay or go their different ways and continue living.
The book begins with a special kind of celebration- it is Melody's sixteenth birthday and her coming of age party. She is wearing a custom made vintage dress, a corset and silk stockings. The dress was sewn and paid for by her maternal grandpare
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ew, d-a-buddy-reads
What a beautiful little jewel of a book! Red at the Bone is told from the perspectives of five members of a somewhat unconventional family. At the centre of the story is Iris, who was 16 when she had her daughter Melodie. The three other family members are Iris' parents and Melodie's father. There is no linearity to the story. Slowly, through different layers, we get a bit more information about what happened to the characters and mostly a strong sense of their very distinct personalities. The e ...more
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a look at the effects of teenage pregnancy on two families, one well-off, the other poor. Told through shifting time and the perspectives of the parents, the grandparents, and the child, the writing itself is worthy of 5 stars. I appreciated the themes as well as the push against stereotypes. The author set out to do what she intended with this book but for me, the story itself was good, but not a memorable read. I'm in the minority as many readers love this one.

* I received a copy of th
“Iris pressed the cold envelopes and magazine against her lips.I was fifteen, she whispered into them. Fifteen. I wasn’t even anybody yet.”

There’s so much love that flows through the pages of Woodson’s latest story, weaving back and forth through time to tell the story of a family through the ages. From Sabe’s story we know the time and place where she grew up, the things she’s seen, the history she’s lived through. All these provide insight into her daughter Iris’s coming future. A future that
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Penguin Random House Audio Group and for the free audio copy.

I’ve been waiting to read this book since I knew of its existence. Jacqueline Woodson is becoming a go-to author for me, and Red at the Bone is just as emotionally smart as her other books I’ve read. It was also thought-provoking and powerful, and I highly recommend it. The audio has multiple narrators, including some cameos from Woodson herself, and it’s also worthy of five stars.
Oct 03, 2019 rated it liked it
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 ha ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
First off, let me say that Jacqueline Woodson writes exquisitely! Reading her words is like being enveloped in a song. I wanted to love this book, oh how I wanted to love it! Instead, I had a hard time connecting, even whilst I loved reading the words. I think the reason for this is that there are so many narrators and at times I got confused as to who was speaking. I really didn't connect with any of the characters except for Iris. Had the book been written in her voice alone, I think this woul ...more
Sep 29, 2019 added it
Shelves: not-for-me
Not going to rate this book as I DNF it but it’s just not for me and I just don't want to give it any

more of my time.

I did however listen to 20% of this on audible and the narration was well done and

with audible you may return the book for any reason and get a refund on your credit which really is

very fair and one of the reasons I love Audio.
Diane Barnes
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is my first Jacqueline Woodson book, and I have to admit, she's quite the storyteller. In just a little under 200 pages, she gives us the family history of Melody, a child who could have been aborted but was not; her mother, Iris, who could have lost her way, but did not; her father Aubrey, who chose to stay; and grand-parents who learned to take the blows of life and roll on. Beautiful and uplifting, I think it should be required school reading for all teen-agers, but know it won't be beca ...more
My friends love this book. I hate it. It is not pleasant to write a review in such a situation, but it Is wrong to say you hate a book and then give no explanation.

This book revels in suffering. It is a common phenomenon to observe people aggravating a wound to increase their pain. This may be a way of venting one’s spleen on life’s injustices. We can in this way feel sorry for ourselves! Some people are drawn to stare at an accident. I am not. Life throws difficulties at many , no, in fact
I have no words to describe how great a writer Jacqueline Woodson is. Her writing genuinely takes my breathe away and I always in awe at how she uses words so sparingly but is able to convey so much- witchcraft!

Red At The Bone opens with sixteen-year-old Melody's coming of age ceremony. Surrounded by friends and family, we get an immersive look into Melody's life and the events leading up to this ceremony. The ceremony is a considered a part of Melody's family history, but for some reason, Me
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-favorites
“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 impa
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
It's 2001 and sixteen-year-old Melody is celebrating her birthday surrounded by family and friends.  Told from alternating points of view, readers learn the past that brought two very different families together for this momentous occasion. 

Red at the Bone is a poignant story that I devoured in one sitting.  The voice of each character is powerful and authentic.  The tragedies that play major parts in their lives were heartbreaking.  This is an unflinching look at family and how we become one, s
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Wow, this seems closer to poetry than prose fiction to me. Many lines certainly are.

It's touching and an excellent posits for these characters. Especially between Melody and her Mother.

But it's just way too lyrical for me. Understanding the poignant developments and connections. And the spirit and reality of "worth" and what is lost and yet so gained- that was 4 star for sure. But the sense of melodrama or some kind of forcing against stereotype. Or some "other worldliness" about this! So very
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jacqueline Woodson is an exceptionally gifted author. Whether it's young adult or simply adult fiction, she creates vivid characters coping with often difficult conditions and working to resolve their goals, lives, and relationships.

In this book, the focus is on Iris, a woman who became pregnant at 15 and Melody, the daughter she had whom she both loves and rejects. The story is told through multiple narrators but I never found this confusing. Each character has a distinct and immediately recogn
Monica **can't read fast enough**
I loved everything about this book. The relationships, self doubts, generational and class divides, as well as complicated love are explored so completely but compactly in this story. Woodson's writing is just extraordinary. What she manages to convey in under 200 pages is just beautiful. This is one that I know I will read again and again.

***I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.***

Where you can find me:
•(♥).•*Monlatable Book Reviews*•.(♥)•
Twitter: @monicaisreading
Instagram: @read
The Artisan Geek
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookcase, favourites
A sincere thank you to my fam at Riverhead books for sending this one over. I just can't understand how someone can write so flawlessly! Completely dazed! Woodson has a unique talent of being able to shape such interesting and rich characters. With ease she shift between past and present of the people's lives, threading together one complete family history. A history that has been marked by unexpected joy, pain and discovery. This is my first read from Woodson and I am absolutely hooked. W
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jacqueline Woodson is a NATIONAL TREASURE. This is one of the very few books that has made me break down into no-holds-barred ugly crying at the end. Nuanced, devastating, and yet empowering and hopeful, this is a perfect read.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction, usa
Am I the last person to have discovered one of the USA's greatest literary treasures? Lord! 4.5 ⭐. Review after I gather myself and post it on IG.
Anna Luce
★★★✰✰ 3 stars

“They say you don’t remember early stuff, that you’re just suddenly six and having your first memories. But that’s not true.”

At its heart Red at the Bone is a novel about familial relationships. The story opens in 2001 during sixteen-year-old Melody's 'introduction' to society. We soon learn that she is the product of a teenage pregnancy and that her parents come from two very different backgrounds. Her mother's family is relatively privileged, while her father was brought up by h
Sep 22, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
Recommended to Christine by: 5s from Diane, Angela, Esil!!
Setting this one aside at 16%. Not digging the writing style at all. No rating.
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“If a body is to be remembered, someone has to tell its story”
Tell a story of bodies is exactly what Jaqueline Woodson has done in red at the bone. Once again she has proven a master storyteller and a writer with the utmost ability to bring her characters to life and make you feel everything that they are going through, the love, the sadness, the hate, the life, and the death. She beautifully weaves this tapestry of a novel about one family and their lives past, present and future. I was left s
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So I finished this book. And it made me cry in public. And I want to read it again. So I can feel this feeling again. I did not read the synopsis of this book before reading. I just cracked it open. It opens with 16-year old Melody making her entrance in a dress that had been custom made for her mom Iris' 16th birthday but she never got to wear. Why? Because of an unexpected pregnancy with Melody. As Melody's grandparents and parents watch her walk down the steps we get the back story of everyon ...more
Jiny S
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy that scrutinizes the dialogue between race, class, and gender. The story is told from the different perspectives of characters surrounding the event, starting with Melody at the age of sixteen, living and experiencing the coming of age party that her mother, Iris, never experienced because of Melody’s conception and birth.

What can be appreciated from the narrative is that a break from traditional stereotypes of unwed black mothers can be obse
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Slay Girl Slay Bo...: Red At The Bone 1 3 Oct 13, 2019 04:40PM  
Angela, Diane and Esil discuss 24 11 Aug 13, 2019 06:15AM  
I used to say I’d be a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing.

I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories a
“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.” 0 likes
“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?” 0 likes
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