Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson – A book review

Oct 12, 20200 comments

It has been a hot minute since I read Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson during our staycation last month. But I have been avoiding to pen down my review/thoughts for a while because I was not sure if I could ever do it some justice. Finally I braved to get on with it and here is my review of Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson!

Have you read Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson? What other hyped books that have lived up to your expectations in the recent past? And which ones dropped the balls? Let us talk. Click To Tweet

About the book

Red at the bone

Book Name: Red at the Bone

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Genre: Fiction – Drama, Young Adult

Characters: Iris, Aubrey, Melody, Sabe, Po’Boy

Setting: Brooklyn, New JerseyThe USA

Plot Summary

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson begins with the sixteen year old Melody getting ready for her coming out party and fighting with her mother on the song that she chose.

Seeing her walk down the stairs in a dress her mother missed out on wearing stirs up emotions and memories for the whole family, which the reader gets to know from the number of alternating point of views.

Melody grew up largely as a motherless child with a doting father and supportive maternal grandparents. Her relationship with her mother Iris was turbulent at best.

Book review

Red at the Bone is an intergenerational family drama, that involves several intense themes like teenage pregnancy, motherhood, fatherhood, grief, ambition, classism, sexism, poverty and racism.

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It walks us through the aftermaths of an unexpected teenage pregnancy in an African American family and the costs of the choices that each one of them makes.

And Woodson does a phenomenal job in keeping the readers on toes with her lyrical writing and acute observation of complex human emotions. Alternating between a number of point of views might seem overwhelming for a few but it worked so brilliantly for me.

I knew Red at the Bone had raving reviews but I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming emotions that swept me off as I began connecting to each character and the choices they make. And the fact that I could feel all these in just 200 pages is just mind blowing.

Initially I was not sure why Melody was so cold to Iris and later, about how Iris could treat Aubrey the way she did. But just within a chapter or two, I found myself thinking “maybe, that’s what I would have done too”. And that is a win for the writer on my books.

Red at the Bone is a powerful book that talks about the invisible threads of misery, secrets and anger that holds the family together.

What worked for me

  • To just say I loved the author’s writing style and her powerful words would be unjust. She is phenomenal.
  • Each and every character is etched to perfection. Sabe and Po’Boy’ were my favorites.

What may have been better

  • If you are not a fan of multiple POVs, watch out. Red at the Bone has five POVs (though very well done).
  • This is definitely not a plot intensive drama.
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Bottom line

While this poignant story may not be entirely new or memorable, it is the impact of the lyrical writing and the emotions that the author packed into her words that makes Red at the Bone so powerful and popular.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson is worth all the hype it gets and pick up this short book if you are into literary fiction.

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Let’s chat

Have you read Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson? What other hyped books that have lived up to your expectations in the recent past? And which ones dropped the balls? Let us talk.

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Hello there!

Gayathri loves reading, recommending books and talking about bookish things in real life. Her blog is just an extension of that habit. When she is not reading books or creating online content, she freelances as a beta reader. She lives currently in Dubai.Head over to meet me

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