Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Title: The Invention of Wings
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 5, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0143121707
ISBN-13: 978-0143121701
Author's Website:
Notes: This was a library loan.

Can you find your own place in a world that has you pegged from birth firmly in one slot?

Sarah Grimke was born in the late 1700s in Charleston. She had aspirations of becoming a lawyer like her father and brothers. It wasn't until she was a teenager that she was rudely awakened to the fact that because of her gender, that future can never be...

Handful is a slave in the Grimke household who was given to Sarah when she was 10 and Sarah was 11. She was born into slavery and the odds are that she'll be one till her dying day. She dreams of one day being free, but with slavery so ingrained in the lifestyle of the south, that dream seems one that will never be..,.

Why would God plant such deep yearnings in us . . . if they only come to nothing?” It was more of a sigh than a question. I was thinking of Charlotte and her longing to be free, but as the words left my mouth, I knew I was thinking of myself, too. I hadn’t really expected Lucretia to respond, but after a moment, she spoke. 

“God fills us with all sorts of yearnings that go against the grain of the world—but the fact those yearnings often come to nothing, well, I doubt that’s God’s doing.” She cut her eyes at me and smiled. “I think we know that’s men’s doing.” She leaned toward me. “Life is arranged against us, Sarah. And it’s brutally worse for Handful and her mother and sister. We’re all yearning for a wedge of sky, aren’t we? I suspect God plants these yearnings in us so we’ll at least try and change the course of things. We must try, that’s all.”

I enjoyed this book and the way we get a look not just from one woman's perspective, but from two as the chapters alternated between Handful's and Sarah's points of view. I loved seeing Handful's inner turmoil over liking Sarah while knowing Sarah represented and was part of everything that took her freedom away. I admired Handful's inner strength which kept her from losing all hope and spurred her small acts of defiance that seemed at times to test Sarah's loyalty and friendship as well as question her beliefs. I also enjoyed watching Sarah struggle with the fact she was born into a family who owned slaves yet was helpless to stop it. It was fun seeing her grow as an individual and finding a way, on her own terms, to protest against slavery and gender discrimination especially after Handful pointed out, “My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it’s the other way round.”  I loved watching the friendship between Handful and Sarah grow and strengthen over the years.

I couldn't help but give this book 5 out of 5 roses. The symbolism of the wings stitched throughout the story quilts strengthened and bound the two viewpoints together much like the layers on a quilt as each of the main characters struggled to figuratively gain their wings and fly. The ending was bittersweet because while there was happy ending, not all dreams were realized which added a touch of realism to the tale. I enjoyed how both Handful and Sarah reached for the sky and each figuratively managed to capture a little piece of it for themselves as they soared.

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