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THE TIMES '100 BEST SUMMER READS'
NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BESTSELLER
LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE 2020
'Sublime' Candice Carty-Williams
'An epic in miniature' Tayari Jones
'A banger' Ta-Nehisi Coates
'Generous and big-hearted' Brit Bennett
'A true spell of a book' Ocean Vuong
'A proclamation' R.O. Kwon
'A little masterpiece' Paula Hawkins
'I adored this book' Elizabeth MacNeal
'Pure poetry' Observer
'A sharply focused gem' Sunday Times
'Will remind you why you love reading' Stylist
'A wonderful, tragic, inspiring story' Metro
'Prose that sings off the page... Gorgeous' Mail on Sunday
'A nuanced portrait of shifting family relationships' Financial Times
'As seductive as a Prince bop' O, The Oprah Magazine
'Razor-sharp' Vanity Fair
'Dazzling... With urgent, vital insights into questions of class, gender, race, history, queerness and sex' New York Times
An unexpected teenage pregnancy brings together two families from different social classes, and exposes the private hopes, disappointments and longings that can bind or divide us.
From the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming.
Brooklyn, 2001. It is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody's coming of age ceremony in her grandparents' brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress - the very same dress that was sewn for a different wearer, Melody's mother, for a celebration that ultimately never took place.
Unfurling the history of Melody's family - from the 1921 Tulsa race massacre to post 9/11 New York - Red at the Bone explores sexual desire, identity, class, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, as it looks at the ways in which young people must so often make fateful decisions about their lives before they have even begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.
*** ONE OF THE BOOKS OF THE YEAR FOR: New York Times; Washington Post; Time; USA Today; O, The Oprah Magazine; Elle; Good Housekeeping; Esquire; NPR; New York Public Library; Library Journal; Kirkus; BookRiot; She Reads; The Undefeated ***
Woodson's beautifully imagined novel (her first novel for adults since 2016's Another Brooklyn) explores the ways an unplanned pregnancy changes two families. The narrative opens in the spring of 2001, at the coming-of-age party that 16-year-old Melody's grandparents host for her at their Brooklyn brownstone. A family ritual adapted from cotillion tradition, the event ushers Melody into adulthood as an orchestra plays Prince and her "court" dances around her. Amid the festivity, Melody and her family her unmarried parents, Iris and Aubrey, and her maternal grandparents, Sabe and Sammy "Po'Boy" Simmons, think of both past and future, delving into extended flashbacks that comprise most of the text. Sabe is proud of the education and affluence she has achieved, but she remains haunted by stories of her family's losses in the fires of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. The discovery that her daughter, Iris, was pregnant at 15 filled her with shame, rage, and panic. After the birth of Melody, Iris, uninterested in marrying mail-room clerk Aubrey, pined for the freedom that her pregnancy curtailed. Leaving Melody to be raised by Aubrey, Sabe, and Po'Boy, she departed for Oberlin College in the early '90s and, later, to a Manhattan apartment that her daughter is invited to visit but not to see as home. Their relationship is strained as Melody dons the coming-out dress her mother would have worn if she hadn't been pregnant with Melody. Woodson's nuanced voice evokes the complexities of race, class, religion, and sexuality in fluid prose and a series of telling details. This is a wise, powerful, and compassionate novel.