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Re­view of “The In­ven­tion of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd

Serve Daily - - LIBERTY SHALL BE MAINTAINED - By Deb­bie Bal­zotti

Irarely use the word mas­ter­piece when talk­ing about a book, but “The In­ven­tion of Wings” has earned this ac­co­lade and a spot on my crowded book­shelf. It’s one of the best new books I have read this year, and as I write this has risen to # 6 on the NY­Times Best Sell­ers list.

One of my fa­vorite read­ing pas­tures is his­tor­i­cal fic­tion, but I find I have to watch where I step or I might find my­self wip­ing ma­nure off my read­ing glasses. Some his­tor­i­cal fic­tion has too lit­tle his­tory and way too much fic­tion to keep me graz­ing. “The In­ven­tion of Wings” is his­tor­i­cal fic­tion at its best with a cap­ti­vat­ing story based on real sis­ters and real events.

Au­thor Sue Monk Kidd in­cludes her in­spi­ra­tion for writ­ing this story about a fam­ily and their slaves in South Carolina. She com­mented, “As it turned out, I’d been driv­ing by the Grimke sis­ter’s un­marked house for over a decade, un­aware that these two women were the first fe­male abolition agents and among the ear­li­est ma­jor Amer­i­can fem­i­nist thinkers.”

Sarah Grimke, and the slave Hetty she is forced to ac­cept as her eleventh birth­day gift, share the nar­ra­tion in al­ter­nat­ing chap­ters. Hetty and Sarah are only a year apart in age, but world’s apart in ev­ery other way. In 1803 there is lit­tle free­dom or op­por­tu­nity for women, but no free­dom for slaves.

Hetty, called Hand­ful by her slave mother, learns that free­dom can be de­cid­ing you will not let your spirit or thoughts be “owned” by any­one. Both Hetty and her mother are abused by their own­ers but they never lose hope that some­day they will be freed from slav­ery.

As the once rich and priv­i­leged Sarah aban­dons the be­liefs of her child­hood she de­cides, “By law, a slave was three-fifths of a per­son. It came to me that what I’d just sug­gested would seem para­mount to pro­claim­ing veg­eta­bles equal to an­i­mals, an­i­mals equal to hu­mans, women equal to men, men equal to an­gels. I was up­end­ing the or­der of cre­ation. Strangest of all, it was the first time thoughts of equal­ity had en­tered my head, and I could only at­tribute it to God, with whom I’d lately taken up and who was prov­ing to be more in­sur­rec­tionary than law- abid­ing.”

Kidd is the best­selling au­thor of an­other book I en­joyed, “The Se­cret Life of Bees”. Our book club read it 10 years ago and ev­ery­one loved it. I’m go­ing to choose “The In­ven­tion of Wings” for my turn in a few months. I’ve also pur­chased it for a gift so I’ve put my money where my mouth is, to use a pop­u­lar id­iom. I want to help it get to #1 on that Best Sell­ers list.

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