What did you read for our Gone with the Wind themed reading month? Did you find something interesting?
February was a good month for me – I read The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. This was one of the books chosen by Oprah for her book club, so many of you may have read this already. I hadn’t and I’m glad I got the chance/encouragement to read it now.
Set in the early 1800s thru the 1830s, The Invention of Wings follows two main characters – Sarah Grimke, the daughter of a wealthy, Southern plantation owner and her slave Hetty “Handful” Grimke who was given to Sarah on her eleventh birthday. Sarah is horrified; she already has strong anti-slavery feelings and does not want to own a human being. Her parents force her to accept Handful and their stories are now set to be entwined for the rest of their lives.
At first the girls (Handful is the same age as Sarah) are almost friends. They share secrets and play together and Sarah teaches Handful how to read. However, the reality of their situation – slave and owner – forces distance between them. Both are trapped, Sarah by the dictates of her parents and the fact that she is female and her choices are restricted. Handful’s life is, of course, much harsher, filled with cruelty and unfairness. Both long to be free to pursue their own lives. Sarah eventually defies her parents and moves to Philadelphia and begins following the Quaker faith in part because of their anti-slavery stand. Handful remains behind, fighting to survive including a terrible punishment for a minor “crime” that will change her life. Sarah reaches out to her again and again but is limited in what she can do until Handful is finally ready to attempt to break free.
Sarah Grimke was a real person who became a vocal abolitionist and woman’s rights suffragist in the 1830s. She and her sister Nina (who also appears in the book) became famous – and notorious – for their unapologetic and outspoken views. Handful is not based on a real person, but her experiences are drawn from countless stories of slaves. This creates a very personal, very painful glimpse of slavery not only the physical pain but the emotional and mental toll – the loss of dignity, of autonomy, of control. A powerful and thoughtful book.
Now it’s your turn – what did you read for this month’s Challenge?