The Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd
The most inspiring book I’ve read in ages, The Invention of Wings is based on the life of Sarah Grimke, abolitionist and women’s rights activist in the 19th century.
The narrative begins around Sarah’s eleventh birthday when she’s given Hetty, “Handful,” as her personal slave, and switches between the two girls, who form a tenuous friendship.
Sarah and Handful are complex with distinct voices, each filled with as much passion as flaws. They aren’t blind to the cracks in their relationship; they make mistakes and hurt each other. Sarah can’t free Handful, and Handful takes advantage of Sarah’s guilt, but they try.
She loved me and pitied me. And I loved her and used her. It was never a simple thing.
And the reader can’t help loving them, either.
Sarah and Handful grow slowly but noticeably, overcoming fears and social expectations in a time when women were supposed to marry and slaves were supposed to be ignorant and grateful. The girls learn to stand up for themselves, and eventually everyone else as well.
Such a powerful book – I couldn’t put it down, and now I can’t stop thinking about it.