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Red at the Bone

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  22,682 ratings  ·  3,315 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
Hardcover, 196 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Riverhead Books
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Diana Fisher Agree with the earlier answers that it is unlikely realistically to have a major leak when breastfeeding has gaps of months (during a college…moreAgree with the earlier answers that it is unlikely realistically to have a major leak when breastfeeding has gaps of months (during a college semester). I think the author just used it as a way to force Iris to be honest about her past, and learn that one has to be honest with partners if there is to be any future together.(less)

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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  22,682 ratings  ·  3,315 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 years 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 havent found any gem as marvelous as them till I read this book and now Im happy to announce this is one of the best fictions of this year (Probably it will compete for best ...more
chai ♡
Red at the Bone landed heavily within me, like a stone sinking in deep water, and the thought of it still makes my heart racket strangely in my chest. Now, I'm snatching at things to say, grasping for anything to make you want to read this book, and sentence by sentence it all evades me. I feel that with every word I put down, I'm writing myself further from what I meant to say.

Red at the Bone is, on its face, a novel that traces the story of an African-American family and the events that
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 Melodys mother Iris, her father Aubrey, her grandmother Sabe and grandfather Sammy PoBoy and the things that ...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 crossa mothers love for you morphing into something incomprehensible. A dress ghosted in another generations 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 Brooklyns 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 that
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 its 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
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
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 couldnt stop reading!

This is the third book Ive read by this author... I need to read her others.
This pogo-sticker is hoppin and shes not stoppin!

This book, oh this book! A jazzy story with heart and smarts, its 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 wasnt 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. Its poetic without being flowery. Its jazzy, with an intense pulse and a cadence that makes my head
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
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
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 ...more
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.
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Penguin Random House Audio Group and for the free audio copy.

Ive 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 Ive 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 its also worthy of five stars.
Iris pressed the cold envelopes and magazine against her lips.I was fifteen, she whispered into them. Fifteen. I wasnt even anybody yet.

Theres so much love that flows through the pages of Woodsons latest story, weaving back and forth through time to tell the story of a family through the ages. From Sabes story we know the time and place where she grew up, the things shes seen, the history shes lived through. All these provide insight into her daughter Iriss coming future. A future that will
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.
How beautifully poetic is Jacqueline Woodsons prose in Red at the Bone. It is a generational story that Woodson begins with Melodys sixteen-year-old cotillion in the spring of 2001. Her mother, Iris, remembers becoming pregnant with Melody when she was only fifteen. Aubrey, Melodys father, and Melodys grandparents, PoBoy and Sabe, have been the stabilizing forces in Melodys life. Even though Iris breastfed Melody for three years, since then, shes become the mother whos always gone.

I watched a
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 ...more
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 Woodsons writing before so when I saw my library had a new book of hers, I decided to read it over this ...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 ...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 ones spleen on lifes 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
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
Sep 29, 2019 added it
Shelves: not-for-me
Not going to rate this book as I DNF it but its 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.
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

What can I say? Sometimes composite novels work for me, sometimes they dont. This one????

Me no likey. Ill 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 you
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: Thats your history, not mine! Her mother goes silent, stunned, then confused, then in tears, responds, Youre right, Iris. . . Its not yours. (105) And then later in life when Iris is thinking about her babys grandmother, CathyMarie (the fathers mother) who once told her to do something with her life, that she had no excuse not to because Nothings ...more
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
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 ...more
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.
Peter Boyle
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This Women's Prize long-listed novel is told by the different members of an African-American family. It begins in Spring 2001, with the cotillion of Melody, a 16-year-old girl living in Brooklyn. As she descends the stairs in the brownstone to the party held in her honour, her family watches her with a sense of love and pride. Mother Iris became pregnant at age 15, but then left Melody as toddler to attend a distant university. Her father Aubrey felt the rejection of Iris deeply, though his lack ...more
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,
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