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Red at the Bone

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  53,350 ratings  ·  6,797 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, 196 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Riverhead Books
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Jan Ayers As a lactation consultant, I can say that it is not impossible for women who have breastfed for a number of years to still be able to express milk fro…moreAs a lactation consultant, I can say that it is not impossible for women who have breastfed for a number of years to still be able to express milk from their breasts for up to several years after weaning. Not all, but some. Generally, this is with some sort of manipulation. In addition, leaking nipples have to do with the musculature of the nipple itself and there is a wide variation amongst women. Also 40% of women are predisposed to overproducing. (less)

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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  53,350 ratings  ·  6,797 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
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
Will Byrnes
…now I knew there were so many ways to get hung from a cross—a mother’s love for you morphing into something incomprehensible. A dress ghosted in another generation’s dreams. A history of fire and ash and loss. Legacy.
Melody is sixteen, having her coming out party in her home, her grandparents home, in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. We are introduced to her father, her grandparents, her bff, her world. She has chosen for her entrance music something that draws a line between her generation and those
I am a sucker for a short book.

This is not because I am lazy - okay, yes, it's because I'm lazy. I enjoy finishing a book per day and I also enjoy spending large portions of my day playing Animal Crossing and listening to podcasts. Sue me.

But I also find it so much more impressive when a small story can pack the punch of a long one. If I can care about the characters, feel invested in the story, really connect with the book, then I feel connected to it all the more for how quickly it managed to
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 periods and multiple perspectives of the parents, 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 memorable. It will be quickly forgotten.

I'm in the minority as many readers love t
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jacqueline Woodson's writes a profoundly lyrical inter-generational black family drama, its history, of race, class, the trials and tribulations of being alive, of identity, sexuality, love, loss, grief and ambition. It begins with the coming of age of Melody, her 16th birthday, wearing a dress that her mother, Iris, never got to wear, at the tender age of 15, Iris was pregnant with Melody. Woodson uses this family event to weave a moving web of family history and interconnections in a narrative ...more
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story is raw with emotion.
A child who is turning 16 and having a coming of age party evokes the memories of her from her mom, when she had her at 16, her dad - just a kid himself, grandma who raised her as her own daughter, and grandpa who loved her to death.
They all do but it’s their stories around this child growing up and how she changed their lives forever.
The themes of racism, education, teenage pregnancy. The costs each of them endured during the course of their lives.
All these memor
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.
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
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: public-library
I was not able to grab the golden ring with this novel that so many of my fellow reviewers did.  The format in which it was written came across as choppy to me and did not allow me to become fully immersed in the story.  And thus, I flounder against the tide this time.  I do respect the story's message of the appreciation of life and love, and the acceptance of what just is. ...more
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
How beautifully poetic is Jacqueline Woodson’s prose in “Red at the Bone.” It is a generational story that Woodson begins with Melody’s sixteen-year-old cotillion in the spring of 2001. Her mother, Iris, remembers becoming pregnant with Melody when she was only fifteen. Aubrey, Melody’s father, and Melody’s grandparents, Po’Boy and Sabe, have been the stabilizing forces in Melody’s life. Even though Iris breastfed Melody for three years, since then, she’s become the mother who’s always gone.

I w
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
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
“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
Andy Marr
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Family, race, sexuality, gender, history: it's incredible how much Woodson has managed to fit into this short novel. A delight from start to finish. ...more
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.
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
My nonfiction reading year is coming to a close. It has been rewarding in more ways than one but also tedious and redundant as I find myself looking forward to a coming year where I will read both nonfiction and novels. Having not read a work of fiction other than a middle grade kids book in eight months, I have decided to ease back into my fiction reading. I have been wowed by Jacqueline Woodson’s writing before so when I saw my library had a new book of hers, I decided to read it over this hol ...more
Katie B
4.5 stars

How does a writer manage to convey so much in just 207 pages? Well, she doesn’t waste a single word. Beautifully written.

The year is 2001 and 16 year old Melody is having a coming of age ceremony at her grandparents' home in Brooklyn. The dress Melody is wearing for the occasion is one that her mother, Iris, never got the chance to wear. Iris was supposed to have a similar ceremony back when she was sixteen but didn't because she was pregnant with Melody. The story will follow Melody, h
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 f
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was the first Jacqueline Woodson novel that I read.
Red at the Bone is a small novel that covers three generations of African-Americans. The story moves back and forward in time, between several characters, showing snippets of their lives, conversations, memories, recollections.
The writing style gave this novel a dream-like quality.
Occasionally I struggled with this novel as it took a couple of phrases or more to find out whose pov we were reading, so I think that jerked me awake and pulle
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
Red at the Bone is a gorgeous multi-generational story moving both forwards and backwards in time as the family expands, changes, and grows with time. Narrated with a full cast, the audiobook was absolutely stunning.

There was so much passion that was delivered with each word. The untold history that is carried with each character whose perspective allows you to glimpse into each of their pasts to understand their motivations, their fears, their desires is so raw and beautifully delivered. And t
4.5 Stars

Content Warnings: Racism, drug use, teen pregnancy, death

Jacqueline Woodson can do no wrong and I mean that will every fiber in my body. I haven't read a book in a while that reminds me of the experiences of my own family and the current dynamic between myself, my mother, and my daughter. Red at the Bone is an inter-generational story that illustrates how 1) the decisions of those that come before and after us can and do impact us in unexpected ways 2) every family at its core has had
Betsy Robinson
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Betsy by: Debbie
About halfway through this multigenerational story about a black family, Iris, the daughter, remembers when she was twelve, yelling at her mother: That’s your history, not mine! Her mother goes silent, stunned, then confused, then in tears, responds, You’re right, Iris. . . It’s not yours. (105) And then later in life when Iris is thinking about her baby’s grandmother, CathyMarie (the father’s mother) who once told her to do something with her life, that she had no excuse not to because Nothing’ ...more
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Love changes and changes. Then it changes again.” (3.5 stars)

“Red at the Bone” is a noteworthy read. In style and form it reminded me a lot of “The House on Mango Street”, which I read many years ago. Short chapters and truncated thoughts and paragraphs are utilized to give a brief overview of 3 generations of a black Brooklyn family. There is not a lot of depth to this novel; it comes across to me as a snapshot in a moment of time, underlying the point that one never really knows the story beh
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

What can I say? Sometimes composite novels work for me, sometimes they don’t. This one????

Me no likey. I’ll gladly take the wrongreader title here, because everyone else looooooved the writing and I felt it was flat. They loooooooved how fresh the story was, but I thought it was stale. They looooooooved all of the social commentary while I thought it was nothing but the usual dose of tragiporn (with an extra helping of 9/11 in case
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A brief novel that starts with a 16 year old putting on a dress that should have been worn by her mother, but wasn't, and the story unfolds from there. This is an author I've always meant to try! I liked how complex her characters are and how their relationships shift in subtle ways. Do you have a favorite Woodson?

The book came out September 17, 2019 and I did have an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elegaic and searing, this novel grabbed hold of me and didn't let go until the last word. Woodson writes in concentrated strokes that capture the essence of Iris, Aubrey, Melody, Sabe, Po'Boy and CathyMarie. I feel that I've known them and cared about them all for years. Just 196 pages and I didn't need a single word more. Perfect. ...more
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