Red at the Bone (Paperback)
  • Red at the Bone (Paperback)

Red at the Bone (Paperback)

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Paperback 208 Pages
Published: 21/01/2021
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Waterstones Says

Taking a sixteen year old girl’s coming-of-age party as a jumping off point to explore the dreams and struggles of a richly delineated cast of characters, Woodson’s stunningly assured work navigates three generations of black American history with verve and urgency.

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020

An extraordinary new novel about the influence of history on a contemporary family, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming.

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.

Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
ISBN: 9781474616454
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 184 g
Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 20 mm


ONE OF THE BOOKS OF THE YEAR FOR:New York TimesWashington PostTimeUSA TodayO, The Oprah MagazineElleGood HousekeepingEsquireNPRNew York Public Library Library Journal Kirkus BookRiot She Reads The Undefeated

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. - Candice Carty-Williams, bestselling author of QUEENIE

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. - Tayari Jones, Women's Prize-winning author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE

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. - Brit Bennett, author of THE VANISHING HALF

A banger - Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of THE WATER DANCER

Red at the Bone glistens with sheer beauty. - Courttia Newland

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. - Observer

Red at the Bone should be on everyone's to-read list. - Stylist (Best New Books for 2020)

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. - Erica Wagner, Financial Times

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. - Guardian

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. - Metro

A sharply focused gem - Sunday Times

Dazzling... Profoundly moving... with urgent, vital insights into questions of class, gender, race, history, queerness and sex in America. - New York Times Book Review

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. - Mail on Sunday

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. - TLS

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. - O, The Oprah Magazine

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. - Good Housekeeping

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. - Elizabeth Acevedo, Observer

Author Jacqueline Woodson knows how to articulate aches that, for most of us, remain locked in inarticulateness - particularly that very human craving for validation. - Elle

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. - Washington Post

She interrogates class, race and the meaning of family with ease and beauty. - Red

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

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. - NPR

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. - Esquire

Jacqueline Woodson's Red at the Bone delivers an emotional wallop... Sublime. - Entertainment Weekly

A remarkable, intergenerational harmony of voices. - USA Today

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. - Atlantic

Razor-sharp. - Vanity Fair

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. - Sainsbury's Magazine

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

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 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. -

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

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)

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

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)

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

The fall's hottest novel. - Town & Country

[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

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

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. - Ocean Vuong, author of ON EARTH WE ARE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS

With its abiding interest in the miracle of everyday love, Red at the Bone is a proclamation. - R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

A little masterpiece, so slight and spare and yet containing so much. Poetic and compassionate and beautifully crafted. - Paula Hawkins

I adored this book. It felt like I was holding my breath the whole way through it. - Elizabeth MacNeal, author of THE DOLL FACTORY

It deals with ambition, desire, race, class and the difficulty of mother-daughter relationships with an impressive lightness of touch. - Louise O' Neill

PRAISE FOR JACQUELINE WOODSONJacqueline Woodson has such an original vision, such a singular voice. - Ann Patchett

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

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

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

Woodson writes lyrically about what it means to be a girl in America, and what it means to be black in America. - Huffington Post

One of the quietly great masters of our time. - Kirkus

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

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

A gorgeous writer... Lyrical prose, really, really beautiful. - Emma Straub

A master storyteller. - Angela Flournoy

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

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 - Ta-Nehisi Coates

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“Short but powerful”

Following the generations of an African American family, this is a story of compassion, about coming of age, class, racism, poverty and self-discovery. Jacqueline Woodson’s multi-layered characters have you thinking... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 41

“An epic in miniature”

Beautiful human prose fills this shifting personal journey through a families memories. It is a story of hardship, judgment, racism and the ability to rise. I am so impressed by the fullness of the voices within this... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 22

“A beautiful, poetic, compact saga”

I loved Another Brooklyn so was utterly thrilled when the pubisher sent me a copy of Jacqueline Woodson's new novel for adults, Red At The Bone, for review. It is a stunning follow up, taking in so much in so... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 20

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