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National Book Award-winning and NYT bestselling author Jacqueline Woodson’s RED AT THE BONE, about family, history, ambition, and a teen pregnancy

By Leslie Lindsay 

Beneath the trouble, lies a very powerful and poignant tale about race and class, ambition, and more. RED AT THE BONE is destined to become a classic. 


~Wednesdays with Writers: SPOTLIGHT!~

The thing with ‘classic’ literature is that it is typically polarizing; that is, not everyone is going to love it, there will be themes that make readers squirm, that make us uncomfortable. Classic literature does that. That’s exactly what we’ll find in this bestseller from Jacqueline Woodson, RED AT THE BONE (September 17 2019).

Told in a forward-and-backward momentum, Woodson tells the story of two African American families from different social classes who come together because of a teen pregnancy and the child it produces. We begin with a sixteen-year-old’s coming-of-age party in somewhat contemporary (2001) times. Melody is that baby from sixteen years ago, when her mother was an unmarried pregnant teen. Adoring relatives look on, but what we don’t know is the pain each of them has carried.

“In less than 200 sparsely filled pages, this book manages to encompass issues of class, education, ambition, racial prejudice, sexual desire and orientation, identity, mother-daughter relationships, parenthood and loss….With Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson has indeed risen — even further into the ranks of great literature.”


Unfurling through time, we ‘meet’ Melody’s parents and grandparent’s their hopes, dreams, fears, and regrets all come to life, touching on themes of ambition, education, sexual desire, class, race, status, and more. Ultimately, we get the POV of six characters: Melody, her (teen) mother Iris, (teen) father Aubrey, CathyMarie (Aubrey’s mother), and Po’Boy and Sabre (maternal grandparents). BUT–what’s bit confusing is, at first, we don’t know who any of these characters are, their stories and voices tend to run together, without any delineation as to who’s who.

multicolored abstract painting

Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

Once I got beyond this, character arcs seemed to materialize and I became wholly engaged in the story. Woodson writes with a sparse but lush and poetic hand, her details are spot-on,the way her eye sees the world is so psychologically and aesthetically astute.

RED AT THE BONE is a story that will stay with me for a long time–not so much in terms of plot, but in the sense of imagery and how it made me feel.

Book Concierge:

I found some similarities between RED AT THE BONE and Jodi Piccoult’s SMALL GREAT THINGS meets Pamela Erens’ ELEVEN HOURS with a touch of Tayari Jones’s AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE.


Artistic photo of book designed and photographed by L.Lindsay. Please follow me @leslielindsay on Instagram

For more information, to connect with Jacqueline Woodson via social media, or to purchase a copy of RED AT THE BONE, please visit: 

Order Links: 

jacquelinwoodsonABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacqueline Woodson is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include The Other SideEach Kindness, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; and Miracle’s Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites:

I hope you do!

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Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured in Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020. She has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1. Second edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA coming Spring 2020 from Woodbine House.




#fiction #literary #lyrical #teenpregnancy #race #class #socialissues #teens #comingofage #gentrification #Brooklyn #pregnancy 


[Cover and author image retrieved from author’s website. Artistic photo of book designed and photographed by L.Lindsay. Please follow me @leslielindsay on Instagram]


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