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Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Even though I write romance/thrillers does not mean I have to read only one genre. I love immersing myself in other types of books. I am a voracious reader and take pleasure from all forms of the written word. Sue Monk’s The Invention of Wings was a spellbinding pleasure. It is a historical novel based on the life of Sarah Grimke a woman born into a slaveholding family who became a leading abolitionist and suffragette before the Civil War.

What makes the book extraordinary is you meet Sarah and one of her family’s slaves Hetty (nicknamed Handful) at the tender age of twelve. The girls are the same age. However, their prospects and realities could not be more opposite. Somehow this slave and master manage to strike up a friendship that will last for the length of their lives. They will learn from each other and share a bond that was unthinkable in the master-slave world of the South.

Sarah will struggle to realize her desire to be independent and pursue a career, which was unacceptable for a woman. She will strive to achieve her dream of emancipation and equality for her family's slaves and end up fighting for the freedom of all slaves. It will make her a pariah, isolate her from her family, and she will end up being banished from Charleston. She will fall in love and forsake love to pursue her calling as a voice of freedom.

Beautifully interwoven into this tale is the voice of Hetty whose grandmother and mother bear the fresh scars of being taken from their village in Africa and sold into slavery. Ms. Monk gives voice to their suffering and gives voice to their oppression, and most beautifully gives voice to their desire to fly free on "the wings of invention." This novel is poignant and heart-wrenching in its presentation of the tortures and oppression that was slavery.

Read this book and learn your history. Don’t condemn those that perpetrated it, for they lived in a different world, in a different time. That world would end in the slaughter of a generation of young men. Understand the sacrifices that were made to sway support for the cause that Lincoln would eventually take up. It was the determination of Sarah Grimke, an all but forgotten Southern white woman, and others like her that brought this tragic period in our history to an end.