Today is that really beautiful day where we're going to gather round and talk about reading. Today's the really beautiful day we're going to share about the random books we've picked for ourselves and we're going to R.E.A.D.S them. You, me, and RAD are going to share and to add all the books to our GoodReads and overwhelm ourselves with the things that we absolutely need to consume.
Let's start with the fact that I read The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.
This book is strong, really strong. I say this because I listened to it on tape (my first time EVER making it through a book on tape) and was so enchanted by all parts of it. The narrators they chose have voices that are all the kinds of delightful and fitting to the characters. My only critique is that this book is so good and you are dying for it to go fast and the readers can only read so quickly without slurring everything together. Be warned fast readers, be warned.
Now time for the R.E.A.D.S. review. If you need a reminder of how these go, check out this post.
I've always sworn I am not a historical fiction reader. I would tell you until I'm blue in the face that I just can't take all those references in my reading. But, lately, I can't put historical fiction down and I've gravitated with a deep and dying devotion to the Civil Rights era.
This novel falls earlier than the other historical fiction books I've read as of late. It steps in and provides a context of the attitudes and actions that precipitated the Civil Rights movement with a constant battle over the righteousness and legality of owning slaves between the members of a white, wealthy southern household.
The main character, Sarah Grimke, is a white daughter of a plantation owner who is real. Yes, this is a fictional novel that dances around the beautiful, brave life of a forward-thinking woman who changed the course of our nation's history. Sarah speaks with intense emotional clarity and intelligent appeals that immediately liken you to her. She's well aware of the consequences of her action and incredibly honest about how she wished desperately for things to have ended differently.
Sarah has a voice that is starkly and beautifully contrasted with the slave she is given as a birthday gift. Handful, the slave -her slave-, details life under the rule of a hateful and terrible Mrs. Grimke (Sarah's mother) while providing a gruesome account of the double standards surrounding slavery. She shares the rich history that slaves pass from one another, passing down their family tales through quilts and craft and word of mouth. She's rich in person and spirit, though owned by a (morally) bankrupt white woman.
If I could only pick a single character to love, I'd probably lean towards Sarah because of the many ways our lives seem to overlap. Her love for her father, her large role in his dying days, her closeness to her littlest sister, her pained emotions about the enormity of the injustices around her. I just see me in her.
But Handful, with her determined-ness to honor the plan she and her mother made, was gorgeous. Her ability to reveal the pain and beauty, the hurt and hope of slaves in this time of transition (from slavery to freedom) was easy for me to grow deeply addicted to. She was divine, a character made to be loved, whose character and life was one that surely sent ripples through the lives of other characters in the book and those of readers.
I never thought fact and fiction could linger so seamlessly, though I'd expect nothing less from Sue Monk Kidd. Her ability to bring gorgeous life to what could easily be called a history lesson illustrates the way our past is amazingly (and terrifyingly) relevant to our present.
There's a plethora. The Help, The Secret Life of Bees, Calling Me Home, To Kill a Mockingbird. And yet, this approaches a different angle of the Civil Rights conversation. It hits in the early 1800s, when slavery was booming in the U.S., but the inklings of race equality were bleeding down from the North to the South.
I'm a hit and miss fan of Kidd herself. Some of her novels have turned me inside out with their beauty. Others fall flat and are almost impossible to read in their entirety. You can always expect complicated relationships, beautiful wordsmithing, and amazing metaphor. Sometimes it works for me and I can't stop, other times I just can't get hooked.
I've avidly read novels by Sue Monk Kidd. This cover was different for her, but was consistent with the cover art that's running in the historical fiction circles. It walks along the same design lines as All the Light We Cannot See with the sort of ombre, watercolor backdrop with block text on the front cover.
I'm not sure that it relates as the image depicted falls blurry and muted behind the white letters of the title, though I'm sure it's meant to intimate a sunset with the beautiful family of reds and oranges that quickly fade into night's black.
Five. Five stars. A hole handful. Once again, Sue Monk Kidd has opened my eyes to what beauty can happen in our history and the way that it can be a part of our present.
I literally have this in my Amazon shopping cart to send to Rachel because I just know she'll eat it up like I did.
Now that my review is done, it's your turn!
The random criteria for next month's link-up:
A book with someone's name in the title.
And we'll see ya'll on July 27th!