Red at the Bone

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

It might be the stage I'm in, but the teenage truths got to me in ways I hadn't felt before. Beautiful prose from Ms. Woodson. I've been recommending to all sorts of readers.
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Jacqueline Woodson never disappoints. This is another great novel about two generations and the challenges they encounter as they are growing up. Two different girls. Both turning sixteen. Both experiencing the same and yet different emotions growing up and experiencing love at a young age. One dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. The other, the result of that pregnancy.
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This book is very different from other Jacqueline Woodson titles that I have read. It shifts around in time and is told from the perspectives of all of the main characters. Beautifully written.
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Other books I've read by Jacqueline Woodson have been for a younger audience and have been very good. This was the first of her works for an older audience that I read, and it was also very good. I was impressed by her ability to work from the perspectives of these characters who are very different, though united by love and family.
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Sometimes life happens and we are suddenly older. It's that incident that pushes us from childhood to adulthood. The time period we were meant to be in is forever gone and we must deal with a new reality. Iris had plans for college, a life and a way out. She meets Aubrey and he gives her Melody. Iris wants to escape her situation and get back on her path, but therein lies consequences for everyone. 

The story begins at Melody's coming of age ceremony where Iris returns and tells Melody the truth. This sets the book into five different narrators and jumping back and forth through time. We see Iris's plans for herself and what happens after she meets Aubrey. We see Aubrey left with Iris to raise and doing the best he can. We see Aubrey's and Iris's parents and finally Melody's.  All these lives intertwine and intersect. Rather than a plot-driven story, we see each character's beginning and how they evolve over time. The story is so rich, a book can be created out of each narrative. It feels so short it was hard to put down. I wanted to see more of the stories underneath. 

Favorite Passages

“The first time Aubrey offered her margarine, she laughed. You know that’s not real butter, right? But he’d just shrugged. Taste good to me. She could see a future with someone who only knew margarine. P41

Iris pressed the cold envelopes and magazines against her lips. I was fifteen, she whispered into them, Fifteen. I wasn’t even anybody yet. P44

If he had taken the SATs, Iris knew he probably would have scored high enough to get into any school he’d chosen. But he was done. He was good. Some mornings he whistled softly. Iris didn’t understand his happiness. How this was so absolutely enough for him. After she latched Melody on her breast, she pressed her nose into the baby’s head and drifted off to sleep. What she saw was a future past the moment of the three of them crowded into one bedroom every morning. A future bigger than the three of them living in her parent’s brownstone. But more than that, she never imagined Aubrey being the end of the line for her. An eternity with him had not been a part of her plan, whether or not she’d take his cherry. As the acceptance letters started coming in, first Barnard, the. vases, and finally Oberlin, she saw the chance to unruly herself. She saw the way out. P61

She felt red at the bone—like there was something inside her undone and bleeding. P162
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Another beautifully written novel by Jacqueline Woodson. I loved the depth of the characters and the language.
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Longer than a short story but shorter than a full-length novel, this is the heartfelt story of 16 year old Melody. Told from both alternate points of view as well as alternate time periods, it takes some work to keep the storylines straight. Young teenage love, an unplanned pregnancy, a mother not meant to be a mother...it’s all there. Beautifully written as are all stories from this author!
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Thanks NetGalley for the preview!

I was sadly not as drawn in by this book as everyone else.  I found the time jumping choppy and often had to re-read to discover who the narrator was.  I could not jump in with these characters as much as I tried.  I liked the message of love even through strife and the ups and downs of life but would suggest some changes to the jumping.
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I recieved an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book and will recommend it often!
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Jacqueline Woodson is such an exquisite writer. Her words, her stories, they sing like melodies on the page. A big thank you to the publisher for the ARC of Red at the Bone, Woodson’s latest. It’s such a quick read (just over 200 pages), but there is so much in those pages. 

The book centers around 16-year-old Melody and opens with her coming of age ceremony. But as we learn more about Melody, we also learn about her grandparents who are raising her, and their love story. We learn about Melody’s parents, the beginnings and endings of their relationship, and about the life-altering decisions of her mother, who became pregnant with her at 16 and the choices she made in the aftermath. 

This book touches on many issues, from racial injustice to class tensions, to the complexities of sexual identity and familial relationships. Each character, no matter how much or how little of their story we hear, is richly portrayed and instantly familiar. I fell in love with all of them and am in awe of Woodson’s ability to create characters with so much depth and warmth and life that they feel like people I knew in another life.
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Jacqueline Woodson is one of those rare authors where you don't just read her books, you feel them.  In this case, you feel the history working its way through the generations of a family.  Some embrace it, others push it away, but all are touched by it in some way.  The book itself is a quick read, but you will find yourself going back to read it again just to immerse yourself in it once more.
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Red at the Bone is so much more than a poetic piece like #browngirldreaming ... its voices/points of view are pure magic. Again, I was challenged about which character I wanted to champion. Mesmerizing reads!
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It's a short little book but I really enjoyed it. It's more of a snapshot of the lives of several family members than a detailed narrative. There isn't a solid plot but I don't require that to enjoy a novel. Sometimes it felt a bit YA (mostly because the main characters are young for most of the book) but overall I liked it and am glad I read it.
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Well written and socially relevant. Woodson does not disappoint with her new novel; its poetic language is a delight.
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In a world of generations that are constantly trying to comprehend each other, this book shows that sometimes it doesn't always work. But even if they don't understand each other, they respect one another and find ways to connect. Through death and rebirth, it is important to see, through Red at the Bone that family is a unit that should never ever depart from another, but only grow.
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Beautiful prose, as usual from Woodson. Rotating points of view tell the story of three generations of a Brooklyn family. Each character feels fully fleshed out as the family deals with the ramifications of an unplanned teenage pregnancy, a changing Brooklyn, illness, catastrophe, and growing together or apart through the years.
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Too mature for middle school. Love Jackie Woodson, but I couldn't get into this one. Never really connected with the characters at any point. Reminded me a little of Out of the Easy.
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Like always, Woodson weaves a captivating tale that leaves you thinking long after you finish reading her words.
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The story was good but I didn't like the style it was written.  I see why some people might love this book but I just couldn't get into it the way it was written.  I never felt at all connected to the characters or the story.  I felt like I was hearing about them second or third hand instead of really getting to know them.  So I heard about the events without feeling like I was experiencing anything.
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Red at the bone: 

Everyone raved about the beautiful prose in this book and I thought it was going to be one of those books really high-brow books that I say I love but really just think is ok. 

But WOW THAT PROSE, THOUGH.  I wanted to read this entire book aloud (and I mostly did) to savor the words. I had a brief obsession with spoken word poetry videos on YouTube and this reads like that. It is beautiful. It is emotional. It is powerful. I cried reading the grandfather's chapter, holding his baby granddaughter. Then I cried more at the end. The book is short, which allows you to take your time with it, and re-read your favorite sections and sentences a few times. 

I was expecting something slighlty pretentious and lacking in plot, and I left moved. This book is beautiful.  

You do have to pay attention when reading it, but it’s worth it.
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