I adored this novel from the opening few pages. I love the characters, there is real depth in them and engaged with the storyline. I read it in two sittings and would highly recommend it as a great read. I loved hearing the variety of voices and thought the structure worked well. Essentially a short novel that covers three generations of an African American family in 20th century USA.
The story opens with Melody remembering her 16th birthday party at her grandparents. All great books need to capture the readers from the beginning. Jacqueline Woodson achieves this to perfection. You are treated to chapters like this…
“Look back at me on that last day in May. Finally, sixteen and the moment like a hand holding me out to the world. Rain giving way to a spectacular sun. Its rays speckling through the stained glass, dancing off the hardwood floors. The orchestra’s music lifting through the open windows and out over the block as though it had always belonged to the Brooklyn air”.
The story then moves along and introduces her family. We meet her mother, Iris, her father Aubrey, and her grandparents. They all tell the story of Melody’s conception, birth and life from their viewpoint. It is clear from the outset that her father adores Melody. He is so proud of her. A man so proud he is crying at seeing his daughter grow up. He knows he’ll lose her to adulthood.
The story develops as we hear from each person close to Melody as they struggle to come to terms with her arrival. Iris’s parents are strict catholic. They are horrified when they find that Iris is pregnant at fifteen. Iris struggles once Melody is born when she finds her life is going to be determined by this child. Audrey is the one person who embraces Melody from the start as she gives him the family he never had.
This is storytelling at its best. Woodson writes with elegant prose and with ease. A classic inter-generational family saga with engaging characters. I can’t say more then I loved reading this and my only regret is not reading it sooner. W&N Books/£14.99

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