Released: September 2019
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 196 Pages
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
This is a relatively short book, falling at just under 200 pages. But despite it’s length it wasn’t lacking in story or character and whilst I read it in one day it definitely stayed with me for a time after. I can see why this was longlisted for the Women’s Prize, and I can definitely see it making the shortlist.
Opening at Melody’s coming-of-age celebration, this book moves backward and forward through time following the POV of Melody’s family and slowly telling us the story of her mothers teenage preganany and events that followed.
This follows the story of Melody’s family. We begin at her 16th ‘coming-of-age’ party and then travel through the POV’s of her mother, father, etc and slowly learn about her family’s history.
The primary story is of her parents, Iris and Aubrey, who became parents to Melody at 16, and about the affects that had on their family. It delves into each individual characters POV to give a full and rich story that was layered and left me feeling so connected to the characters.
We get multiple perspectives and end up hearing from almost all of the members of Melody’s family. Her mother and father, who had her as teenagers, her grandparents, who helped raise her, and herself at 16. This is a short book but each character was so full of depth and soul and I really felt their emotions and their struggles.
I think my favourite character was Melody’s mum, Iris. She was the most complex and represents the really interesting discussion of women having to chose between being a mother, and being ambitious.
The writing was truly beautiful. It really lifted a story that we’ve all read and seen before in various forms. This was my first Jacqueline Woodson book but I’ve now added all of her other works to my TBR that I hope to read soon.
It’s crafted so perfectly that you don’t even realise all of these threads of stories and thoughts are slowly weaving together to create a full history of this family. I also felt her execution of writing multiple voices was on point. I never felt confused as to whose perspective I was reading and felt their tone and indiviuality really shone through the words.
“Guess that’s where the tears come from, knowing that there’s so much in this great big world that you don’t have a single ounce of control over.”– Jacqueline Woodson, Red at the Bone