Red at the Bone

Red at the Bone

‘A banger’ Ta-Nehisi Coates | ‘An epic in miniature’ Tayari Jones

It’s 2001, 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 music 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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Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Modern & Contemporary Fiction (post C 1945)

On Sale: 17th September 2019

Price: £14.99

ISBN-13: 9781474616461

Reviews

A gorgeous writer... Lyrical prose, really, really beautiful.
Emma Straub
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.
Kirkus (starred)
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2019 #1 Indie Next pick of October One of the New York Times 17 New Books to Watch for in September One of Elle's 16 Best Books of 2019 One of BBC's Ten Books to Read in September One of the Washington Post's top 10 books for September One of the Chicago Tribune's 28 Books You Need To Read Now One of Oprah Magazine's Best LGBTQ Books That'll Change the Literary Landscape in 2019 One LitHub's Most Anticipated Books of 2019 One of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Literary Fiction titles of Fall One of Entertainment Weekly's 20 New Books To Read In September One of Time's 42 Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2019 One of Book Riot's 11 Upcoming LGBTQ Books to Preorder during Pride Month One of The Millions Most Anticipated Books of the second half of 2019 One of BookPage's Most anticipated fiction books of Fall 2019 One of PopSugar's best of fall list One of Entertainment Weekly's Fall Books Preview One of the People's Best Books of Fall One of BuzzFeed's 33 Books You've Got To Read This Autumn One of Bustle's 35 New Books Out In September 2019
[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.
BookPage
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.
BBC.com
Woodson does for young black girls what short story master Alice Munro does for poor rural ones: she imbues their everyday lives with significance.
Elle
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.
Bust
"Listen". Jacqueline Woodson repeats the command across several perspectives in her sublime new novel, examining the fractures within an African-American family... Woodson covers nearly a century, from the 1921 Tulsa race massacre to 9/11. Her grasp of history's weight on individuals - and definitive feel for borough life, past and present - is, as in her last novel, Another Brooklyn, emotionally transfixing.
Entertainment Weekly (A-)
A remarkable and moving portrait of a family in a changing Brooklyn . . . There's not a single unnecessary word.
Refinery29
A slim novel with tremendous emotional power.
Real Simple
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.
Booklist
Woodson makes us want to reach into the mirror she holds up and make the words and the worlds she explores our own.
New York Times Book Review
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.
Popsugar
An epic in miniature... As moody, spare, and intense as a Picasso line drawing... The beauty of this work is in its velvety shifts from the past to the present. Woodson, an acclaimed author of young adult literature, shows that to understand the soul of a woman, we must understand the heart of the girl she once was... This poignant tale of choices and their aftermath, history and its legacy, will resonate with mothers and daughters. There is pain on these pages, but hope glimmers between the lines. If trauma is a cursed heirloom handed down through the decades, maybe love is the cure passed upward from the young to the old, a bright promise that gleams like a hidden bar of gold.
Tayari Jones, Women's Prize-winning author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, writing in O: The Oprah Magazine
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.
Tayari Jones, Women's Prize-winning author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE
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.
Naomi Jackson
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.
Publishers Weekly (starred)
Th fall's hottest novel.
Town & Country
Razor-sharp.
Vanity Fair
One of the quietly great masters of our time.
Kirkus
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.
Pacific Standard
PRAISE FOR JACQUELINE WOODSON Jacqueline Woodson has such an original vision, such a singular voice.
Ann Patchett
Intense, moving . . . reading more like prose poetry than traditional narrative, the novel unfolds as memory does, in burning flashes, thick with detail.
New York Times
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.
Vox
Jacqueline Woodson begins her powerful new novel audaciously, with the word "But." Well, there are no buts about this writer's talent... With this new novel for adults, Woodson continues her sensitive exploration of what it means to be a black girl in America. What we have here is an exquisitely wrought tale of two urban black families whose lives become permanently intertwined when their only children conceive a child in their teens... Red at the Bone should win Woodson plenty of new fans. It reads like poetry and drama, a cry from the heart that often cuts close to the bone... In less than 200 sparsely filled pages, this book manages to encompass issues of class, education, ambition, racial prejudice, sexual desire and orientation, identity, mother-daughter relationships, parenthood and loss - yet never feels like a checklist of Important Issues... There isn't a character in this book you don't come to care about, even when you question their choices... Woodson's language is beautiful throughout Red at the Bone, but it positively soars in the sections written from Iris' mother's point of view. 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 - the massacre by whites that drove her family north and taught them to vigilantly safeguard their social and economic gains... With Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson has indeed risen - even further into the ranks of great literature.
NPR
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.
Washington Post
A master storyteller.
Angela Flournoy
Woodson writes lyrically about what it means to be a girl in America, and what it means to be black in America.
Huffington Post
Dazzling... Profoundly moving... Red at the Bone is Jacqueline Woodson's second novel for adults, with urgent, vital insights into questions of class, gender, race, history, queerness and sex in America... This is a central question of Red at the Bone: what is to be done when two people, tied together by a baby they've made, want disparate lives? When the velocity and direction of two people's longings so wildly diverge? If the situation were reversed, the genders flipped - if Iris were the parent fulfilled by a domestic life, a low-paying but stable job, and Aubrey ached for more, elsewhere - this would be an old story, as familiar and established as the patriarchy itself. The devoted mother, the father itching to run. But to depict a mother eager to leave her baby is a far less told story, and it's astonishing, it's a feat, to see how lovingly, even joyfully, Woodson sees Iris's desires through. No one in Iris's family, or Aubrey's is trying to hurt anyone. Sturdy, lasting love, consideration and everyday kindness: these are as integral to a good life as they are challenging to portray in fiction.
New York Times Book Review
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.
Nylon
A remarkable, intergenerational harmony of voices. At its center is hope for both individual and hereditary survival. But Woodson most poignantly portrays the brutality and liberty of a woman putting herself first.
USA Today
With its abiding interest in the miracle of everyday love, Red at the Bone is a proclamation.
R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries