Friday, June 20, 2014

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Just finished this revealing gem over a bowl of cereal and fresh raspberries. Ahh, the joys of summer: freshly-picked berries and reading through a meal. Love it!! And I loved this book! I enjoy Sue Monk Kidd's writing, the rhythms and weavings she masterfully places on the page.  This story caught me from the start, and the author's pattern of alternating between storytellers held me close. And the ending: whoa. That is an ending.

Briefly Kidd frames the story of Sarah Grimke, a Charleston-born wealthy slave-owner's daughter, who will grow up to become one of our nation's first feminsts (for real--this story is historical fiction), and Handful, one of the slaves on the plantation, back in the early nineteenth century. Their relationship offers us a window into the trials of boundaries, societal views, and breaking out of the confines at the time and place in the U.S.'s trialful history. Kidd writes with a quiet, growing tension in her work, and The Invention of Wings subtly swept me along until poof! I could not put it down. While I assumed some of the grim actions of slave owners and society in general were true (treacherous and true), I hadn't connected the historical implications of her story until I read her notes after I finished reading the story. I loved learning about techniques slaves used to capture and communicate their life stories on quilts. I also appreciated the author's thorough notes at the end of the book, opening up a whole new world of story-telling for us to witness.

We recently watched 12 Years a Slave, and I occasionally connected the two sets of stories. The most soul-stopping for me is how we treated slaves. I struggle to write about it here; I continue to be both moved and grieved by some of the new details that I have come to understand through these two resources.

The Invention of Wings is most definitely a worthy read. If you like Sue Monk Kidd's earlier work, you will indeed enjoy this one as well.

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