Booklist Reviews 2019 August #1
When Woodson's (Another Brooklyn, 2016) emotionally rich third adult novel opens, it's early in the new millennium and Melody is the age her mother, Iris, was when she had her, but doing something Iris never got to do: making a grand entrance at her sixteenth-birthday party in Iris' parents' Brooklyn brownstone. Melody has lived her whole life in Sabe and Po'Boy's home along with her dad, Aubrey, while Iris—whom Melody has called by her first name for as long as she can remember—pursued an independent life, first at Oberlin and then in Manhattan. Time flips forward and back as chapters alternate among the perspectives of Melody, Iris, Aubrey, Sabe, and Po'Boy, their stories interlocking and tunneling through one another for a clear and fuller picture of their family, and all that Melody's pivotal arrival brought to it. Woodson channels deeply true-feeling characters, all of whom readers will empathize with in turn. In spare, lean prose, she reveals rich histories and moments in swirling eddies, while also leaving many fateful details for readers to divine. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2019 April
Oft-crowned children's/YA author Woodson, whose recent adult novel, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist, opens this adult title with Melody celebrating her 16th birthday at her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone. Melody's mother never did get her own 16th birthday party, and therein lies a tale of two families separated by class, ambition, gentrification, sexual desire, and unexpected parenthood. The publisher's top fall fiction title.
Copyright 2019 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2019 July #3
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. (Sept.)
Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.