I’ll Fly Away

Well, I’m certainly delinquent in my posting and my reading as of late. It would be safe to say I’ve had a lot going on in the last 2 weeks and not a lot of free time or concentration remaining. I usually escape to reading as a stress relief, but that is assuming that I have a book that I am eager to read and that I have a bit of time to sit down and read it! I had neither. Also I’m usually good about reading before bed; at least until I’m startled awake by the book hitting the floor after falling out of my sleeping hand! But I read the same page of the same book about 5 nights in a row before I gave up on it and decided I would come back to that book another time (The Daughters of Mars, Thomas Keneally). I always have an audiobook going in the car too, but I picked one that was read by a reader that I didn’t like in the past, and I immediately recognized her voice as annoying me before and my objectivity for the story suffered because of it. (See, no concentration at all!) What’s going on? Well for starters, I’m buying a house… Exciting and scary all at once! I’m buying on my own, so there is a lot to do, all resting on my shoulders. But I found the house, got the loan and now I’m just moving forward with the process until settlement. In the mean time, my little dog got sick, requiring a night in the hospital, followed by 3 days at home of not eating. That sent us back to the hospital and he had to have surgery to remove a foreign object from his stomach. I don’t know what he ate, but they were kind enough to save it for me so I could guess what it was after it spent a week in his gut… Gross! We are only just recovering from that (I mean WE. He may have had surgery, but he wasn’t the only one with an upset stomach after all that worry!) as he snores on the sofa next to me. But before my world went insane, I read a great book and I can finally share it with you!

Book # 28- The Invention Of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd

suemonkkidd Rating: 5- I’d read it again

Synopsis: In 19th century Charleston, SC, slavery is in full force as a way of life. Sarah Grimke, at age 11,  is gifted a slave named Hette to be her handmaid. Sarah is appalled by the idea and by slavery in general and tries to give her back, but her father won’t have it. Sarah is trapped in a world where she can do little but accept her place in society, learn to hold her tongue,  and try to make a good match of a husband. But she feels she is meant for more. Hette is 10 when she is given to Sarah. She is forced to leave her mother’s side and live in the house, sleeping outside of Sarah’s door at night in case she rings her bell to call. Hette is what she is called by the Grimkes. Her mother called her Handful. And she, like Sarah, isn’t content to accept her place. As she grows up in the household, she takes over for her mother as seamstress, and is granted privileges to leave the house and go into town. Once she gets a taste of the world, she has to have  more. Sarah leaves Charleston to join the Quaker church in their abolitionist movement; and she and her fearless little sister Angelina make a name for themselves, as well as a few waves as they go. Handful remains under the close watch of Sarah’s mother and her gold-tipped cane, yearning for the freedom that is so often promised but never bestowed.

My Impressions: I could write pages and pages and never truly describe how beautiful this story really is. There is so much depth and detail in every page. The characters of Sarah and Handful are so strong, that their convictions conflict. Handful, takes her freedom from Sarah’s shyness and Sarah gains strength from indignation. The girls both cross boundaries that society sets for them, despite the ridicule that Sarah edures, and the physical consequences that Handful endures. And as they find their courage, their place, their purpose, they find more meaning in each other.

Another thing I loved about this story, is how well researched it is! The Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina, are historical figures, who were very involved in the Quaker abolitionist movement, and Sarah went on to advocate for women’s rights. Their sister, Mary remained pro-slavery throughout her life. And Sarah was in fact gifted a slave named Hette to be her handmaid on her 11th birthday. All of these details are so intricately woven into this beautiful story to add to the depth and create powerful imagery.

Why you should read it: In a few years, I can see this book on a list of high school required reading. Add it to the list of fictional works that paint the picture of American history through literature; To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Raisin in the Sun, The Jungle. This is a book not to be missed, but I personally recommend the incredible vocal performance of the audiobook.

Read if you liked: The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd), The Help (Katheryn Stockett), Beloved (Toni Morrison)

Book #28 in the bag!

“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” ― Malcolm X

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