Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Wings is only the third novel that we've had from this talented author. I've read The Mermaid Chair and The Secret Life of Bees, and loved both works, particularly the beautiful and poignant Mermaid Chair.
The Invention of Wings tackles a particularly tough subject, slavery, in pre-civil war South Carolina.
The main characters, who switch between chapters with their POV, are Sarah Grimke and Hetty "Handful," a slave who is gifted to Sarah on her birthday, though she is horrified and refuses to own another person (which puts her in hot water with her parents, particularly her nasty mother).
Sarah attempts to free Handful, only to find out how little actual power she has in her household and in the world as a female in society. Sarah also teaches Handful how to read and write, which is verboten, and is punished appropriately. Throughout the book we watch Sarah become an abolitionist and a feminist, and her struggles for freedom from male oppression mirror those of Handful's struggle for freedom from cruelty and from oppression. The characters grow and change over 30 years in the novel, and while there are some slow points in the book, the beautifully-wrought characters and their strong voices bring readers over those small bumps in the journey to the intense conclusion. Even Quakers are seen as prejudiced and often cruel, though their religion preaches freedom for the slaves. Still, readers learn details of a slave rebellion and plantation life that add to the rich historical background. I was particularly fond of the quilt that Handful's mother created that told her story. All in all, though the subject matter is not an easy read, and though the author doesn't shy away from describing sadistic punishments visited on slaves for minor and major infractions, the Invention of Wings is still a great read, engrossing and fascinating. A sold A, and I'd recommend it to those who enjoy Kidd's other books and those who are interested in a personalized history of the abolitionist movement in South Carolina. Below is a reading guide that anyone can download and use for book group discussions or just general information.
This is what my friends and I would have created at our slumber parties back in high school if we would have had access to video cameras or iPhone cameras and You Tube. It's pretty funny stuff:
http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz20856051A group of teen girls had a
slumber party at BookPeople of Moscow, Moscow, Idaho, last Friday night,
and got up to some musical mischief. Check out the resulting video http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz20856051, with their rendition of
"Talk Nerdy to Me," filmed by store co-owner Steffen Werner's daughter Lena.
It's no secret that I adored "The Fault in Our Stars" and put it on the book list for my Library Book Group. The movie is due out this summer, and I am hoping that it lives up to the wonderful, tear-jerking book, written by the marvelous John Green, whose Mental Floss videos are not to be missed!
http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz20856067An extended trailer has
been released for The Fault in Our Stars http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz20856068,
adapted from the bestselling novel by John Green. Deadline.com reported
that the trailer "includes scenes of Mike Birbiglia's character playing
cheesy songs in the teen cancer support group where Hazel (Shailene
Woodley) and Augustus (Ansel Elgort) meet, and we get a quick glimpse of
Hazel's parents (Laura Dern and Sam Trammell)." Josh Boone directs the
romantic drama, which opens June 6.