The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
She said “Once upon a time, Africans could fly. They would circle around the sun- like blackbirds. We lost that magic when we became slaves.”
“The invention of wings” is the best novel I have read this year and one that I will read again and again.
The book is based on the true story of the Grimke sisters- Sarah and Angelina, who bravely fought against racial inequality and slavery and for women’s rights middle of the 18th century in America. The story describes how Sarah – brought up in a wealthy aristocratic family, who owned lands and slaves, with strict roles that governed what women were to do and behave- metamorphosed to a bold activist who fought for the rights of slaves and women against a lot of opposition.
The story centers around Sarah Grimke and Hetty Handful. Hetty was gifted to Sarah on her 11th birthday as a maid. Sarah had witnessed a maid being whipped in her childhood, which had traumatized her to an extent that it left a permanent stammer. She resists her birthday present and tries to write a letter to free her, which is promptly torn into two. Sarah and Handful develop a relationship, which may be called friendship, but also filled with anger, spite, and distrust on Handful’s part. Sarah teaches Handful how to read and they share secret moments together, going against the rules.
Handful is intelligent after her mother, Charlotte, who is also a slave and talented seamstress in the Grimke’s household. She has learned to get her way through cunning and manipulation and believed that her spirit could not be tied down. It may be ironic that while Charlotte and Handful rebelled against their slavery, Charlotte’s spirit is broken in the end, while Handful was willing to die for her freedom.
The story describes their transition to adult life and how both Sarah and Handful find their calling. It describes their disappointments, shattered dreams, and failed romances, but also on how they were able to overcome in spite of it all.
What I liked about the story was the raw honesty of the characters. Emotions are rarely easy or black and white in real life and that was well portrayed. It was great to see Sarah’s transformation from an insecure child to a confident adult. Finding your calling, making sacrifices for what you believe in are other themes of the book.
I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a good read.
You can get the book from Amazon here.