Book Beginnings quote:
But that afternoon there was an orchestra playing.Friday56 quote:
In the photo, Melody was holding an orange balloon and grinning into the camera--her hair neatly cornrowed, her eyes dark and clear.Summary: In the opening line we know that something has happened before this moment since it begins with "But." The music is playing for Melody's 16-year-old coming-out party. As she descends the stairs to join the party, her friends and relatives look on with love and fond hope for her future. She is wearing the dress her mother, Iris, was going to wear for her own coming-out party sixteen years earlier but she never wore it because she became pregnant before the event. The story, told by a host of narrators, chronicles all the moments leading up to and after this moment. "As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives--even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be" (from the publisher). I'm guessing that the title of the book is a picturesque way of describing how ready these teens were for parenting--underdone; not ready.
Review: The lives of two families are changed forever by the decision (or lack of a decision) that two teens make to not use contraception when having sex. Iris has no thoughts about the responsibilities and commitments required of parenting, she only thinks about the pregnancy. Her parents are so embarrassed by the unplanned event that they move from their beloved community and church so as to avoid the gossip that is sure to ensue. Aubrey is in love with Iris and envisions a life together with their small family but Iris wants college and a career, not home and family. Fortunately Aubrey's mother and Iris's parents help out with the raising of young Melody. The second quote is about a time at college when a new friend sees Iris looking at a photo of her daughter and assumes it is her sister.
The book makes a lot of good points and is well written, though I was often confused as to who was the narrator but I didn't find myself connecting with any of the characters. The book provides a counterpoint to another book I just read about teen pregnancy, With the Fire on High, where the teen mother loves her daughter ferociously and still has goals and plans for her future. It is a tough topic and is handled beautifully in both books.