A remarkable and moving portrait of a family in a changing Brooklyn . . . There's not a single unnecessary word.
Woodson famously nails the adolescent voice. But so, too, she burnishes all her characters' perspectives . . . In Woodson, at the height of her powers, readers hear the blues.
Woodson's beautifully imagined novel explores the ways an unplanned pregnancy changes two families... 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.
PRAISE FOR JACQUELINE WOODSON Jacqueline Woodson has such an original vision, such a singular voice.
Woodson brings the reader so close to her young characters that you can smell the bubble gum on their breath and feel their lips as they brush against your ear.
Intense, moving . . . reading more like prose poetry than traditional narrative, the novel unfolds as memory does, in burning flashes, thick with detail.
Woodson channels deeply true-feeling characters, all of whom readers will empathize with in turn. In spare, lean prose, she reveals rich histories and moments in swirling eddies, while also leaving many fateful details for readers to divine.
The fall's hottest novel.
A slim novel with tremendous emotional power.
[Jacqueline Woodson's] books combine unique details of her characters' lives with the sounds, sights and especially music of their surroundings, creating stories that are both deeply personal and remarkably universal....this lyrical, lightly told coming-of-age story is bound to satisfy.
Jacqueline Woodson has a gift for finding the perfect sets of details and poetic turns of phrase to make her novels feel epic and expansive.
Woodson interweaves Melody's touching narrative brilliantly with generational stories from her mother Iris, who was pregnant with Melody at the age of 16; her father Aubrey, still remembering the first flush of love; her grandmother Sabe, whose own grandmother survived the historic 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma massacre in which "white folks tried to kill every living brown body", and her grandfather Po'Boy, who is wasting away from cancer. Their memories and loving glimpses of Melody create a family portrait that transcends the bounds of time. Woodson, a National Book Award winner, writes with fluidity, grace and finesse, pulling the plot tight in the final word.
Exploring issues of gentrification, sexual identity and class, Red at the Bone is a novel you won't soon forget, one that begs to be discussed.
The latest novel by Jacqueline Woodson is a beautifully written examination not just of the bonds of family, but also of how alone one can feel within it... Woodson paints a portrait of people who can barely remember who they once were, yet live with the echoes of their past selves every day. This lyrical novel makes the reader feel like they are present at a moment both they, and the characters, are attempting to unpack together.
Jacqueline Woodson writes right along the border of poetry and prose: her language is as elliptical and dreamy as poetry, but it's always grounded in story and character, like prose.
This gorgeous, moving novel is a celebration of three generations of a Black family in Brooklyn, and is a story of love-romantic and familial-and alienation, grief and triumph, disaster and survival... Woodson's language is never less than stunning and powerfully conveys the complications and love present within this family to great, compassionate effect.
ONE OF THE BOOKS OF THE YEAR FOR: New York Times Washington Post Time USA Today O, The Oprah Magazine Elle Good Housekeeping Esquire NPR New York Public Library Library Journal Kirkus BookRiot She Reads The Undefeated
Woodson explores class, race and death with unflinching honesty and emotional depth... She manages to remember what cannot be documented, to suggest what cannot be said.
Woodson writes lyrically about what it means to be a girl in America, and what it means to be black in America.
One of the quietly great masters of our time.
Woodson does for young black girls what short story master Alice Munro does for poor rural ones: she imbues their everyday lives with significance.
Woodson makes us want to reach into the mirror she holds up and make the words and the worlds she explores our own.
A gorgeous writer... Lyrical prose, really, really beautiful.
A master storyteller.
Jacqueline Woodson has a poet's soul and a poet's eye for image and ear for lyrical language... I'll go anywhere she leads me.
Dazzling... Profoundly moving... with urgent, vital insights into questions of class, gender, race, history, queerness and sex in America.
With its abiding interest in the miracle of everyday love, Red at the Bone is a proclamation.
A remarkable, intergenerational harmony of voices.
An epic in miniature... As moody, spare, and intense as a Picasso line drawing... This poignant tale of choices and their aftermath, history and its legacy, will resonate with mothers and daughters.
Jacqueline Woodson begins her powerful new novel audaciously, with the word "But." Well, there are no buts about this writer's talent... There isn't a character in this book you don't come to care about, even when you question their choices... Readers mourning the death of Toni Morrison will find comfort in Sabe's magnificent cadences as she rues her daughter's teen pregnancy, which flies in the face of the lessons her mama ingrained in her from the Tulsa race riots of 1921... With Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson has indeed risen even further into the ranks of great literature.
Red at the Bone showed me something I didn't realize I needed in a book: home. Because throughout their trials, tribulations and triumphs, the people in this book were my people... Red at the Bone is a narrative steeped in truth - and, yes, it's painful. But it's also one of healing and hope.
Jacqueline Woodson's Red at the Bone delivers an emotional wallop... Sublime.
Completely sublime and immersive, Red at the Bone will strike you in the heart. Woodson writes the beautiful complication that can be intergenerational relationships with love, and a richness that is breathtaking.
A spectacular novel, one that wrenches us to confront the life-altering and life-pulling and life-subsuming facts of history, of love, of expectations, of status, of parenthood, as only a teenage pregnancy can.
A beast of a book; a masterclass on pace, characterisation and how a writer can be flexible. You'll find yourself rooting for every character, and hurting for them as well.
As seductive as a Prince bop, Woodson's follow-up to Another Brooklyn is a move-to-its-own-groove multigenerational saga of racism and an unplanned teen pregnancy that throws together two disparate families. This deceptively slim novel pulses with yearning-for more, for better, for love, and for the chance to write our own stories.
Author Jacqueline Woodson knows how to articulate aches that, for most of us, remain locked in inarticulateness - particularly that very human craving for validation.
One of our most empathetic writers... Lyrical, dreamy, and brimming with compassion for her characters, Woodson explores the forces that divide us and the ties that bind with her signature extremity of feeling.
Red at the Bone should be on everyone's to-read list.
This book is full of passion, pain and the ripples left by the past, all told in a rich language that fizzes off the page.
She interrogates class, race and the meaning of family with ease and beauty.
A nuanced portrait of shifting family relationships... With passionate precision Woodson paints the aches and pleasures of all kinds of love: parental love, the love of friendship, sexual love... By the end of the novel the nature of [the characters'] wealth seems different than it did at the beginning of the book: as we have come to know its characters and their lives, it is their stories, not their gold, that gleam out from the darkness all around.
Profound, moving and consistently unexpected... A book that embraces class, desire, race, gender, ambition and tragedy, all with exemplary subtlety... Red at the Bone is pure poetry.
Red at the Bone is less than 200 pages long but manages to cram in the story of one black American family from the start of the 21st century to the end - and from six viewpoints too... The writing is so sensuous and deft, Woodson's characterisation so instantly wrought, that perspective changes and propulsive tumble of years become a cinch to follow... A wonderful, tragic, inspiring story. Sublime.
'It is rare to read an American novel that talks so unsqueamishly about class, and the systems - from the well-intentioned to the malignantly racist - that stymie upward mobility in black communities. It is rarer still to read a novel of unpunished maternal reluctance... It is in telling Iris's story - not as one of callous abandonment but of self-protection and queer desire - that Woodson's novel shows its red-raw heart'
It would be tough to find a novel this year as enchanting as Red at the Bone. Woodson takes us through decades of generational dreams in this glistening charm of a book.
In prose that sings off the page, Woodson tells their stories and the stories of Iris's parents [...] weaving a spare family saga that marries joy with sadness. Gorgeous.
Black women and their sexuality - what is projected on to it; its weight, beauty and ease - are at the heart of Red at the Bone. Woodson seems to understand that there has never been a way for youth or love or desire to play it safe. A young girl's sexuality is hers to discover, and not her parents', nor her lovers', to assume or take away. It is the mystery that keeps unravelling, like blood, truth and memory.
Haunting... There is an abundance of angst over class, gender and race subtly woven into this beguilingly slim novel. Woodson frames each chapter from the point of view of a different character, and the result is a narrative about an individual family that takes on communal urgency and power. She shows her readers how elliptical and obsessive human memory is... Black women and their sexuality - what is projected on to it; its weight, beauty and ease - are at the heart of Red at the Bone. Woodson seems to understand that there has never been a way for youth or love or desire to play it safe. A young girl's sexuality is hers to discover, and not her parents', nor her lovers', to assume or take away. It is the mystery that keeps unravelling, like blood, truth and memory.
A little masterpiece, so slight and spare and yet containing so much. Poetic and compassionate and beautifully crafted.
Red at the Bone is a beautiful portrait of two families bonded through a teenage pregnancy and later fractured as its members follow their diverging paths. It's a generous, big-hearted novel that explores the pressures ambition and desire place on two young parents, as well as the histories they inherit that continue to shape the family for generations.
I adored this book. It felt like I was holding my breath the whole way through it.
It is rare to read an American novel that talks so unsqueamishly about class, and the systems - from the well-intentioned to the malignantly racist - that stymie upward mobility in black communities. It is rarer still to read a novel of unpunished maternal reluctance... It is in telling Iris's story - not as one of callous abandonment but of self-protection and queer desire - that Woodson's novel shows its red-raw heart.
A true spell of a book, Woodson is one of those rare writers who make you feel like you can do anything, should do anything. The story of family and young love are timeless human stories, but through Woodson's sentences, this novel offers us new ways to think and embody our burning world and, perhaps most mercifully, permission to dream - and to change.
Jackie gets how class works for black people - how most of us ar never truly out of the hood. This is the wealth gap as literature. But it never says that. Never didactic. On the contrary, joint goes down smooth and easy . . . [and then] you realise there was nothing easy about it
A sharply focused gem
It deals with ambition, desire, race, class and the difficulty of mother-daughter relationships with an impressive lightness of touch.
Red at the Bone glistens with sheer beauty.