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The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Published on Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Flight from Oppression

Set in early 19th Century, Charleston, South Carolina, we meet Hattie (nicknamed “Handful”), a slave in the wealthy Grimké household. Handful is presented as a “gift” to the Grimke’s intelligent young daughter, Sarah, who is fiercely opposed to slavery.  Sarah secretly teaches Handful to read and vows to someday give her freedom.  As punishment, Sarah loses access to her father’s extensive law library.  Both women are victims of a society that embraces the ownership of human beings and the utter domination of women. As a result, Sarah’s ambitions for a career and independence seem as hopeless as Handful’s desire for freedom; both women are, in their own ways, enslaved.

Growing more daring over time, Sarah and her fearless younger sister Angelina manage to carve out a niche for themselves in the Northern states, where they find some sympathetic minds.  They give brilliant speeches not only on the evils or slavery, but also on the rights of women, to growing audiences of abolitionists and people with pioneering ideas about society. 

The story portrays the struggles, sorrows, dangers, and sacrifices in store for those who work to shift entrenched social institutions.  The characters, many of which are based on real people, are charismatic and well-drawn.  I highly recommend this title for book discussion groups. 

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13 comments on article "The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd"

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