Book: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Publication date: 2014
Summary: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is an imagined life story of the real-life woman Sarah Grimké, a Southern-born woman who grew up to be an abolitionist and one of the earliest proponents of rights for women in the United States.
Thoughts: The Invention of Wings was the October pick for our Diversity Book Club and it proved to be a terrific book for promoting discussion. Everyone in our group agreed that it was beautifully written, even the ones who were most disturbed by the gritty realism of parts of the book.
A passage that meant a lot to me was from the point of view of Hetty, the enslaved girl assigned to care for Sarah’s needs. I think it still, sadly, applies in modern times when we remain a segregated society and have to work so hard to cross the line that divides us, never entirely sure that we’re achieving mutual understanding:
She laid the book down and came where I was standing by the chimney place and put her arm around me. It was hard to know where things stood. People say love gets fouled by a difference big as ours. I didn’t know for sure whether Miss Sarah’s feelings came from love or guilt. I didn’t know whether mine came from love or a need to be safe. She loved me and pitied me. And I loved her and used her. It never was a simple thing. That day, our hearts were pure as they ever would get. p. 54
I was familiar with this story since I read the biography for children about the Grimké sisters a few years ago: Sisters Against Slavery by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson. I’m very pleased that Sue Monk Kidd’s novel will give knowledge of the Grimké sisters to more people. They would have been instant heroes to me when I was ten years old and I’m glad that it’s never to late to get new heroes. The Invention of Wings is an inspiring work.
Appeal: This fits into the category of Southern literature, not quite comfortably, but that’s part of what it means to be Southern literature.
Reviews: Roughly a gazillion book bloggers have reviewed this book since Sue Monk Kidd is a popular author and this book was selected for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Beth Fish Reads reported that the audio version contained “stellar, heart-felt performances.”
Have you read this book? What did you think?