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Red at the Bone: A Novel
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Description
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
"A spectacular novel that only this legend can pull off." -Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of  HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST, in The Atlantic
"An exquisite tale of family legacy….The power and poetry of Woodson’s writing conjures up Toni Morrison." – People
 
"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….With Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson has indeed risen — even further into the ranks of great literature." – NPR
 
"This poignant tale of choices and their aftermath, history and legacy, will resonate with mothers and daughters." –Tayari Jones, bestselling author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, in O Magazine
An unexpected teenage pregnancy pulls together two families from different social classes and explores their histories – reaching back to the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 — and exposes the private hopes, disappointments, and longings that can bind or divide us from each other, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming

 
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 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 family – reaching back to the Tulsa race massacre in 1921 — 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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Street Date:
09/17/2019
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780525535294
ASIN:
B07PMZZX2Z
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APA Citation (style guide)

Jacqueline Woodson. (2019). Red at the Bone: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Jacqueline Woodson. 2019. Red At the Bone: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Jacqueline Woodson, Red At the Bone: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2019.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Jacqueline Woodson. Red At the Bone: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2019.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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fullDescription
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
"A spectacular novel that only this legend can pull off." -Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of  HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST, in The Atlantic
"An exquisite tale of family legacy….The power and poetry of Woodson’s writing conjures up Toni Morrison." – People
 
"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….With Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson has indeed risen — even further into the ranks of great literature." – NPR
 
"This poignant tale of choices and their aftermath, history and legacy, will resonate with mothers and daughters." –Tayari Jones, bestselling author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, in O Magazine
An unexpected teenage pregnancy pulls together two families from different social classes and explores their histories – reaching back to the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 — and exposes the private hopes, disappointments, and longings that can bind or divide us from each other, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming

 
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 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 family – reaching back to the Tulsa race massacre in 1921 — 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.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from July 15, 2019
        Woodson’s beautifully imagined novel (her first novel for adults since 2016’s Another Brooklyn) explores the ways an unplanned pregnancy changes two families. The narrative opens in the spring of 2001, at the coming-of-age party that 16-year-old Melody’s grandparents host for her at their Brooklyn brownstone. A family ritual adapted from cotillion tradition, the event ushers Melody into adulthood as an orchestra plays Prince and her “court” dances around her. Amid the festivity, Melody and her family—her unmarried parents, Iris and Aubrey, and her maternal grandparents, Sabe and Sammy “Po’Boy” Simmons, think of both past and future, delving into extended flashbacks that comprise most of the text. Sabe is proud of the education and affluence she has achieved, but she remains haunted by stories of her family’s losses in the fires of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. The discovery that her daughter, Iris, was pregnant at 15 filled her with shame, rage, and panic. After the birth of Melody, Iris, uninterested in marrying mail-room clerk Aubrey, pined for the freedom that her pregnancy curtailed. Leaving Melody to be raised by Aubrey, Sabe, and Po’Boy, she departed for Oberlin College in the early ’90s and, later, to a Manhattan apartment that her daughter is invited to visit but not to see as home. Their relationship is strained as Melody dons the coming-out dress her mother would have worn if she hadn’t been pregnant with Melody. 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.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from July 15, 2019
        Woodson sings a fresh song of Brooklyn, an aria to generations of an African American family. National Book Award winner Woodson (Harbor Me, 2018, etc.) returns to her cherished Brooklyn, its "cardinals and flowers and bright-colored cars. Little girls with purple ribbons and old women with swollen ankles." For her latest coming-of-age story, Woodson opens in the voice of Melody, waiting on the interior stairs of her grandparents' brownstone. She's 16, making her debut, a "ritual of marking class and time and transition." She insists that the assembled musicians play Prince's risqué "Darling Nikki" as she descends. Melody jabs at her mother, Iris, saying "It's Prince. And it's my ceremony and he's a genius so why are we even still talking about it? You already nixed the words. Let me at least have the music." Woodson famously nails the adolescent voice. But so, too, she burnishes all her characters' perspectives. Iris' sexual yearning for another girl at Oberlin College gives this novel its title: "She felt red at the bone--like there was something inside of her undone and bleeding." By then, Iris had all but abandoned toddler Melody and the toddler's father, Aubrey, in that ancestral brownstone to make her own way. In 21 lyrical chapters, readers hear from both of Iris' parents, who met at Morehouse, and Aubrey's mother, CathyMarie, who stretched the margarine and grape jelly sandwiches to see him grown. Woodson's ear for music--whether Walt Whitman's or A Tribe Called Quest's--is exhilarating, as is her eye for detail. Aubrey and little Melody, holding hands, listen to an old man whose "bottom dentures were loose in his mouth, moving in small circles as he spoke." The novel itself circles elegantly back to its beginning, Melody and Iris in 2001 for a brava finale, but not before braiding the 1921 Race Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the fires of 9/11. The thread is held by Iris' mother, Sabe, who hangs on through her fatal illness "a little while longer. Until Melody and Iris can figure each other out." In Woodson, at the height of her powers, readers hear the blues: "beneath that joy, such a sadness."

        COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        August 1, 2019
        When Woodson's (Another Brooklyn, 2016) emotionally rich third adult novel opens, it's early in the new millennium and Melody is the age her mother, Iris, was when she had her, but doing something Iris never got to do: making a grand entrance at her sixteenth-birthday party in Iris' parents' Brooklyn brownstone. Melody has lived her whole life in Sabe and Po'Boy's home along with her dad, Aubrey, while Iris?whom Melody has called by her first name for as long as she can remember?pursued an independent life, first at Oberlin and then in Manhattan. Time flips forward and back as chapters alternate among the perspectives of Melody, Iris, Aubrey, Sabe, and Po'Boy, their stories interlocking and tunneling through one another for a clear and fuller picture of their family, and all that Melody's pivotal arrival brought to it. 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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: School Library Journal
      • content:

        July 17, 2020

        This quick novel opens with Melody's coming-of-age ceremony. She is 16, the same age her mother was when she gave birth to her. Woodson weaves together the perspectives of three generations, alternating among Melody, her parents, and her grandparents. VERDICT This is a story of adolescence told from multiple generational vantage points.-Elliot Riley, Deerfield Academy, MA

        Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 27, 2019

        One could do no better justice to this stunning book from the multi-award-crowned Woodson (Another Brooklyn) than to quote its dedication: "For the ancestors, a long long line of you bending and twisting bending and twisting." That quote exemplifies the sense of family, of connectedness, of endurance that is the legacy of Woodson's characters, further captured when our young heroine Melody says, "Maybe this was the moment when I knew I was part of a long line of almost erased stories." The narrative opens with Melody celebrating her 16th birthday at her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone, wearing the white dress originally made for Melody's mother, Iris, for her own 16th birthday celebration, which never took place because she was pregnant with Melody. Before the ceremony, Iris, heretofore an indifferent mother, urgently tries to impart a sense of heightened expectation and responsibility to an exasperated Melody, which launches the family stories at the heart of the book, from Melody's grandparents barely surviving the 1921 Tulsa race riots to Iris's pregnancy, refusal to marry Melody's father, and determination to regain the freedom she might have lost with Melody's birth. VERDICT An aching story of family and class, ambition and gentrification, sexual desire and what motherhood really means, rendered in beautifully precise language. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.]--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

        Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from July 15, 2019
        Woodson sings a fresh song of Brooklyn, an aria to generations of an African American family. National Book Award winner Woodson (Harbor Me, 2018, etc.) returns to her cherished Brooklyn, its "cardinals and flowers and bright-colored cars. Little girls with purple ribbons and old women with swollen ankles." For her latest coming-of-age story, Woodson opens in the voice of Melody, waiting on the interior stairs of her grandparents' brownstone. She's 16, making her debut, a "ritual of marking class and time and transition." She insists that the assembled musicians play Prince's risqu� "Darling Nikki" as she descends. Melody jabs at her mother, Iris, saying "It's Prince. And it's my ceremony and he's a genius so why are we even still talking about it? You already nixed the words. Let me at least have the music." Woodson famously nails the adolescent voice. But so, too, she burnishes all her characters' perspectives. Iris' sexual yearning for another girl at Oberlin College gives this novel its title: "She felt red at the bone--like there was something inside of her undone and bleeding." By then, Iris had all but abandoned toddler Melody and the toddler's father, Aubrey, in that ancestral brownstone to make her own way. In 21 lyrical chapters, readers hear from both of Iris' parents, who met at Morehouse, and Aubrey's mother, CathyMarie, who stretched the margarine and grape jelly sandwiches to see him grown. Woodson's ear for music--whether Walt Whitman's or A Tribe Called Quest's--is exhilarating, as is her eye for detail. Aubrey and little Melody, holding hands, listen to an old man whose "bottom dentures were loose in his mouth, moving in small circles as he spoke." The novel itself circles elegantly back to its beginning, Melody and Iris in 2001 for a brava finale, but not before braiding the 1921 Race Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the fires of 9/11. The thread is held by Iris' mother, Sabe, who hangs on through her fatal illness "a little while longer. Until Melody and Iris can figure each other out." In Woodson, at the height of her powers, readers hear the blues: "beneath that joy, such a sadness."

        COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
"A spectacular novel that only this legend can pull off." -Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of  HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST, in The Atlantic
"An exquisite tale of family legacy….The power and poetry of Woodson’s writing conjures up Toni Morrison." – People
 
"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….With Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson has indeed risen — even further into the ranks of great literature." – NPR
 
"This poignant tale of choices and their aftermath, history and legacy, will resonate with mothers and daughters."...
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