RED AT THE BONE by Jacqueline Woodson
In Red at the Bone, a quick, engrossing, fairly plotless read, Jacqueline Woodson dissects the anatomy of a family. She’s able to skillfully distill a collection of lives down to their bare essentials, without anything feeling rushed or underdeveloped, a feat in a book that’s scarcely 200 pages. The novel is narrated by a handful of characters and centers on Melody, a teenage girl preparing for her coming of age ceremony in her family’s home in Brooklyn. The narrative then weaves in and out of the past and present, in short, readable chapters, all pervaded by a sense of nostalgia and melancholy.
At times I found Woodson’s writing a tad overwrought (here I will cite the most obvious offender: WHY do authors feel compelled to have characters narrate their own births – has anyone else noticed that this is a growing trend?!). However, on the whole I found that subjects were navigated with deftness and subtlety – the chapter in particular which introduces a major world event I found positively gutting.
The downside of short, punchy books like this is that they never tend to leave much of a lasting impression on me, and I doubt Red at the Bone will be an exception in the long run, but I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with it.
You can pick up a copy of Red at the Bone here on Book Depository.