Monday, June 15, 2015

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

From the very first page, and the introduction of Sarah as a young girl, being given her own slave, Handful, I was hooked on this book. The details of Sarah's life - a prisoner in many ways of her own family -  were beautifully told in her chapters. I could feel myself walking in her shoes, questioning all of her family's values. Why couldn't she receive an education and become a lawyer? Why did society hold so many women down. In many ways, why do we still?

But, oh, how my heart ached as I became attached to Handful and her family, slaves of Sarah's family. Her first-hand accounts of brutal beatings, of the law of the land, of the terrible fate awaiting any slave who questioned this life.

From the beginning Handful had such a spark - and the comparisons in her personality and drive (and hopelessness, at times) were so parallel to those of Sarah. Both went through life with similar challenges, and yet how can one compare the life of a wealthy southern girl to that of a southern slave? It can't be compared. And yet, so eloquently Sue Monk Kidd is able to help us see that the world holds down many people.

As is often true with historical fiction, I loved reading the author's note at the end of the book. Learning which characters she created from her imagination and which were based on real people is fascinating to me. Knowing in greater detail the stories behind the story give even more meaning to a book that reached inside and squeezed my heart. I am now a richer and wiser person having read it.

Although lengthy, this interview by Oprah of Sue Monk Kidd is well worth watching.