Red at the Bone: A Novel

Red at the Bone: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 2,849 ratings

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Product details

Listening Length 3 hours and 52 minutes
Author Jacqueline Woodson
Narrator Jacqueline Woodson, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Peter Francis James, Shayna Small, Bahni Turpin
Audible.ca Release Date September 17 2019
Publisher Penguin Audio
Program Type Audiobook
Version Unabridged
Language English
ASIN B07QZCWTNH
Best Sellers Rank #28,964 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#1,084 in Women's Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,125 in Black & African American Literature (Books)
#1,482 in Literary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
2,849 global ratings

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Reviewed in Canada on March 21, 2020
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Reviewed in Canada on October 24, 2019
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Top reviews from other countries

sevenpin
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar Fiction
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2020
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Anika May
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw. Honest. Heart-breaking. A must-read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 28, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Raw. Honest. Heart-breaking. A must-read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 28, 2020
Jacqueline Woodson and her magnificent ability to convey so much heart in just 196 pages is a read I’ll never forget.

Red at the Bone dives into this family’s mosaic history, from 1921 to 2001. The book begins at Melody's coming of age ceremony. She’s 16 years old, surrounded by friends and family, and making her way into the world. The ceremony is a treasured part of her family’s history, taking place in the home of her middle-class grandparents. But Melody's mother, never reached her imperative celebration. And the reason why has affected three generations of family members.

Jacqueline Woodson’s writing is remarkably powerful. In my opinion, there’s no other way to interpret it. Her words carry weight and emotion but are formatted in short and smooth sentences. Despite its length, the novel doesn’t feel like a quick read. It has a balanced depth as the reader comes to understand the history, mindset, and make-up of Melody’s family. We get to see her grandparents’ journey, her parents’ journey, and the beginning of hers through a variety of African-American perspectives.

Red at the Bone highlights the outlooks of race, class, love, parenthood, desire, and freedom. It’s impossible not to be swept up by the poetic plot. The chapters read like an emotional song, with its compelling highs and crushing lows. It has both joy and mourning, success and misery. Each verse has its own level of passion and intensity, which changes and reshapes as the family does. Every character has their own battle, whether it appears as they grow into adulthood or later in life. And as the story moves back and forth in time, the reader discovers what events shaped its narrators.

The novel teaches us how impactful our decisions can be. It may be short in length but is rich in wisdom. And it comes through experiences of the characters, as well as their relationships with others. For example, Sabe’s memory of the Tulsa race massacre, Aubrey’s fierce love for Iris, and Iris’ longing for education and liberty. Every ordeals trickle down to Melody’s perspective in 2001. It’s a vibrant tapestry that can be explored over, and over, and over.

Everything about Red at the Bone is impeccable. The spotless prose, the authentic characters, and the diversified presentation of each of its themes. It never feels overcrowded, sluggish, or insignificant.

Anika | chaptersofmay.com
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Ninaminacat
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfyingly complex but didn't engage me on a personal level
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2021
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Sammii-Louu
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Raw
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 22, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Raw
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 22, 2020
RED AT THE BONE begins in 2001, as 16-year-old Melody enters her coming of age ceremony in her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone, wearing a white dress made to measure for someone else. The story moves back and forward in time, tracing the history of her parents & grandparents, showing how the threads of family pull towards the present.

My favourite moments were the two-handers: the private moments shared between two characters & the perspective through which Jacqueline Woodson chooses to convey the intimacies of these personal experiences. The tenderness of a first sexual experience described from the male perspective; a nursing mother's experience of arousal; a Black mother's experience of childbirth and encounters with medical professionals; Black queer sexual awakening; the earliest childhood experiences (the layering of memory here almost reminded me of Sister Night's nostalgia trip and hearing her grandmother's voice echo through her memories of William - Watchmen HBO ep 6); the significance of that white dress. In this novel, pleasure and pain are tightly wound together; Woodson poignantly captures the ecstasy of being.

Like a lot of the books I've read recently, this sparked my interest in what we pass down through the family line and what is inherited - be it mannerism, temperament, belief - how trauma is engraved in our ancestry and woven through the generations. Sabe and Tulsa will be on my mind for a while.

There were a few moments when I wanted a little more from the narrative, but stories like this are making me hungry to read.
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Judith Jesp
4.0 out of 5 stars Not all life shattering experiences are negative
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 19, 2020
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