Cover Image: Red at the Bone

Red at the Bone

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Orion Publishing Group and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

There are very few words in the English lexicon to sufficiently describe the profound beauty of this lyrical, hauntingly beautiful novel. 'Red to the Bone' is quite simply a siren song to lovers of literature everywhere. Essentially a tale of the human condition, vis-à-vis an interconnective narrative of the struggles and triumphs of the protagonists of one family over a number of years, the beauty of this novel seems to defy the prosaic format of a book review. Let me explain. There are facts the reader can grasp about this dynastic marvel of English literature - Iris' teenage pregnancy, for example, and Melody's 16th birthday, where she wear the dress her mother would have worn had she not been pregnant with her at the time. Then there are the transformative, universal themes of love, loss, sexuality, grief and identity, which are all present to be grasped by the eager reader's search for definition and meaning. I do not mean to dismiss facts - they are intrinsic to the book and authentic human experience - but anyone can write about facts and events, indeed, many have. Woodson, however, elevates storytelling to another level, in that one does not just read this book, one feels it.... profoundly. There is something poetic about her writing that is gently visceral. Combined with the intricate, gossamer-like thread of interconnectedness that forms a plot that almost takes on the quality of a stream of consciousness, this is a novel that is more than a tour de force, more of a once in a decade literary event.

Read it. You won't be disappointed.

Compelling, beautiful - almost beyond words.
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Iris has a baby when she is 15 years old. The story tells the impact of that baby being born on Iris, her boyfriend, her parents and the baby itself, Melody. 
It’s beautifully written book and I felt invested in all the characters.  I can definitely see this book making the Women’s Prize long list in March. 
A quick read which I would highly recommend 
5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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Jacqueline Woodson's writes a profoundly lyrical inter-generational black family drama, its history, of race, class, the trials and tribulations of being alive, of identity, sexuality, love, loss, grief and ambition. It begins with the coming of age of Melody, her 16th birthday, wearing a dress that her mother, Iris, never got to wear, at the tender age of 15, Iris was pregnant with Melody. Woodson uses this family event to weave a moving web of family history and interconnections in a narrative that deftly illustrates how the past is writ large in the present, continuing to shape the future. The repercussions of a teen pregnancy, an Iris for whom motherhood is not enough and abandons Melody to be lovingly brought up by her steadfast, contented and committed father, Aubrey, and her grandparents Sabe and Sammy. It takes in the impact of the 1921 Tulsa race massacres, driving the family to relocate and triggering its focus on ambition.

Woodson's stellar novel imprints itself indelibly on my memory with its insightful and acute observations that go into highlighting the complexities and complications of family. She has a real gift in characterisation with so few words, bringing a humanity and authenticity to the people who inhabit the book. This may well be a short novel, but it is epic in scale, containing such beautiful imagery, with an underlying sense of universality when it comes to family, of what it takes to survive and endure, the importance of remembering, the tragedies, the heartbreak and the joy and hope too. A poignantly stitched together multilayered reconstruction of a specific family and its past amidst which lies the history of a nation. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Orion for an ARC.
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