Red at the Bone
Updated: Mar 30
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson is a coming of age story that follows three generations of two families, how they come together, and how they go their own ways. The story opens with Melody's "coming out/cotillion" party. At the age of 16, she is on display at her grandparents home, wearing the same dress her mother, Iris, wore to her party. Melody's parents, Aubrey and Iris, met as young teenagers and found themselves becoming parents during high school. Aubrey accepted how his life diverged from the path he thought it would go, but Iris had a harder time accepting it. When Melody was a baby, Iris enrolled in college and continued to live her life, leaving Melody to be raised mostly by Aubrey and her grandparents.
Woodson's writing is poetic, lyrical, and absolutely beautiful. There is no doubt that she is a talented writer and Red at the Bone is a prime example of that. Overall, I think this book just was not for me. I like more character development and I felt like I barely knew any of these characters. The ones I knew, apart from Aubrey, I did not care for. Iris was a character that was hard to like, especially being that I am a mother and it is hard to fathom leaving my children to be raised by someone else. But I also have compassion for her and the fact that she had her whole life ahead of her and why should having a child stop her from pursuing her dreams. Each chapter switched character perspectives and timelines, which was confusing at times. Some chapters took a solid page before I understood which character's perspective the writing was. That structure and the lack of character development was what held me back from really enjoying this book. That being said, it was about 200 pages and an extremely fast read.
I gave Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson ★★★.5. I will check out more of Woodson's writing because she is a talented writer. She manages to be intimately descriptive in a single sentence of merely six words. That takes talent. I know that I have an unpopular opinion on this one, but I think it comes down to that it was not a book for me. Not a bad book by any means, but just not for me.
Please do not let my review hold you back if you have seen this one and are intrigued by the synopsis. The amazing thing about reading is that we all have our own thoughts and perspectives. We might not all agree on the same book, but that does not mean that we do not enjoy reading or discussing the books we are not a fan of. Reading is pretty dang cool!