Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SKIN & BONES by Renée Watson


by Renée Watson

Pub Date: May 7th, 2024
ISBN: 9780316570886
Publisher: Little, Brown

An award-winning author of books for young readers explores white supremacy and anti-fat bias in her first novel for adults.

No matter how Lena Baker might feel about her big body, others see her size as concerning, inconvenient, or distasteful. She has to go to several stores before she can find a shop that will help her find a wedding dress. Getting a restaurant table that meets her needs is an embarrassing ordeal. And medical professionals want to check her blood sugar levels and talk about her weight regardless of why she’s seeing them. Despite this, at age 40, she’s in a good place. She’s made a comfortable home for her little girl in Portland, Oregon, the city where she grew up, where her family and closest friends live. She’s engaged to Malcolm Wilson, the assistant pastor at her father’s church. And she’s doing work that is important to her. As the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for Multnomah County’s public libraries, she’s putting together a program about Portland’s Black history. Then, on what is supposed to be her wedding day, Malcolm reveals that he has been untruthful with Lena; as she tries to recover from this betrayal, she also contends with the struggles that are endemic to being a woman approaching middle age—and those that are specific to being a big Black woman in contemporary America. Watson is adept at negotiating the complicated terrain of family, friends, and romantic partnership as they intersect with racism. As Watson weaves bits of history into the narrative, Lena sees herself in the Black people who chose to settle in the whitest city in America—a city that is white by design—and looks to them to teach her how to live in a world not made for her.

Both tender and unflinching.