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Red at the Bone: Book summary and reviews of Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Red at the Bone

by Jacqueline Woodson

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson X
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2019
    208 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

An extraordinary new novel about the influence of history on a contemporary family, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming.

Two families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. Moving forward and backward in time, with the power of poetry and the emotional richness of a narrative ten times its length, Jacqueline Woodson's extraordinary 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 this 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 soundtrack 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Woodson's nuanced voice evokes the complexities of race, class, religion, and sexuality in fluid prose and a series of telling details. This is a wise, powerful, and compassionate novel." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[The author's] ear for music—whether Walt Whitman's or A Tribe Called Quest's—is exhilarating, as is her eye for detail...In Woodson, at the height of her powers, readers hear the blues: "beneath that joy, such a sadness." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] remarkable and moving portrait of a family in a changing Brooklyn...There's not a single unnecessary word." - Refinery29

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Reader Reviews

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Susie J

A Book for These Ages - Red at the Bone
I have only known Jacqueline Woodson as a children's or young adult writer, the winner of the Newberry Prize in 2014 for Brown Girl Dreaming. When her new novel, Red to the Bone, became available at my library, I grabbed it, and I am ever so glad that I did. Now I will certainly go back and find Another Brooklyn, her first adult novel which,, in 2016, was nominated for the National Book Award for Fiction. This latest novel, Red to the Bone, is not to be missed.Tthe story of a young girl, Melody. Each chapter is told in the voice of a different family member, father, mother, grandparents, and Melody, of course, and jumps time, sex, race, and many other issues. How one writer can capture the mood and nature of so many possibilities and personalities, their pride, their joy, their pain, with age and sex and race an religion posing no barrier, is hard to imagine, but Woodson more than successfully manages this. These people are so real, their stories so vital, that in spite of possible vast differences, they relate so very clearly to all our lives. Woodson's prose, infused with subtle poetry, rings and carries the reader the a river through their history, and in the end, hope not only rises, but as Woodson says, "gleams." This is a powerful read and clearly elevates this author's literary status.

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Author Information

Jacqueline Woodson Author Biography

Photo: Marty Umans

Jacqueline Woodson is the bestselling author of more than two dozen award-winning books including the 2016 New York Times-bestselling National Book Award finalist for adult fiction, Another Brooklyn. Among her many accolades, Woodson is a four-time National Book Award finalist, a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a two-time NAACP Image Award Winner, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award Winner. Her New York Times-bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, received the National Book Award in 2014. Woodson is also the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and recipient of the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the 2018 Children's Literature Legacy Award. In 2015, she was named the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She lives with her family in New...

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