Red at the Bone is the first book I read by black American author Jacqueline Woodson, but I will definitely take a look at her children’s books from now on. Red at the Bone, which is my book club’s choice, is one of the novels that will end in one sitting with its different narrative technique and beautiful characters.
My book club is very excited these days. Recently, they prefer to choose two books instead of one book. This book was our second pick. After reading some books, I feel glad I have a book club. Without it, I probably wouldn’t have read this book; how exciting and how beautiful.
Red at the Bone is about the effects of Iris’ pregnancy at a very young age on two families, one rich and the other poor. Time and narrators change in each episode, and the reader sees how each character feels and experiences from past to present. When I finished the book, I thought this narrative technique was excellent to write such a subject. You connect with all of them and understand them better.
Lately, all the women around me decided to become mothers and gave birth to cute little people. I knew from a young age that I would not be a mother and would probably only become a slave to cats. The character of Iris in Red at the Bone impressed me in this respect. I wish I could listen to her story more and reflect on what she thinks more.
Red at the Bone, of course, also describes the terrible racism blacks are subjected to in America, and it handles the subject so cleverly that you see that racism is everywhere and in the details. If you like different narrative techniques, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading Red at the Bone. Enjoy!
Red at the Bone
“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 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 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.
I used to say I’d be a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing.
I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories across sidewalks and penciled tiny tales in notebook margins. I loved and still love watching words flower into sentences and sentences blossom into stories.
I also told a lot of stories as a child. Not “Once upon a time” stories but basically, outright lies. I loved lying and getting away with it! There was something about telling the lie-story and seeing your friends’ eyes grow wide with wonder. Of course I got in trouble for lying but I didn’t stop until fifth grade.
That year, I wrote a story and my teacher said “This is really good.” Before that I had written a poem about Martin Luther King that was, I guess, so good no one believed I wrote it. After lots of brouhaha, it was believed finally that I had indeed penned the poem which went on to win me a Scrabble game and local acclaim.
So by the time the story rolled around and the words “This is really good” came out of the otherwise down-turned lips of my fifth-grade teacher, I was well on my way to understanding that a lie on the page was a whole different animal — one that won you prizes and got surly teachers to smile. A lie on the page meant lots of independent time to create your stories and the freedom to sit hunched over the pages of your notebook without people thinking you were strange.
Lots and lots of books later, I am still surprised when I walk into a bookstore and see my name on a book’s binder. Sometimes, when I’m sitting at my desk for long hours and nothing’s coming to me, I remember my fifth-grade teacher, the way her eyes lit up when she said “This is really good.” The way, I — the skinny girl in the back of the classroom who was always getting into trouble for talking or missed homework assignments — sat up a little straighter, folded my hands on the desks, smiled and began to believe in me.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: