Review by Erika Robuck, originally featured in her blog.
I was drawn to The Invention of Wings because I am a huge fan of Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, and because I have a particular and personal interest in slavery and race relations. I expected the novel to be great, and it even surpassed my high expectations. Told in thoughtful, rich prose, Kidd’s novel is utterly absorbing, and continues to shine important light on the dark past of American slavery.
Sarah Grimke seems to be a fragile and tender girl, with a heart larger than her courage, but as the novel progresses, Sarah becomes a woman of great strength and integrity, capable of more than she could imagine. Told in alternating points of view, the sections of the slave girl, Handful, are equally mesmerizing because of her spunk and courage. She is an astute, intelligent, and wide-eyed observer of the women around her, and possesses the voice I most longed for when away from her scenes.
The accounts of slavery in the book are brutal without being gratuitous, and the relationships of familial and romantic love are realistic and compelling without a shred of sentimentality. Kidd is a master at balancing a wealth of largely unknown historical information with a transportive story of sin and redemption, tragedy and triumph, peopled with flawed characters whose lives bring about great personal and national growth.
The Invention of Wings was selected as the next Oprah 2.0 pick for good reason. In a sweeping drama spanning decades, Sue Monk Kidd tackles the very marrow of the abolitionist movement, how it corresponded with the start of the women’s rights movement, and the heroic women at its heart. This is a novel that begs to be discussed and shared, and would make an excellent book club selection. I give The Invention of Wings my highest recommendation.
ERIKA ROBUCK is author of the novels, Fallen Beauty, Call Me Zelda and Hemingway’s Girl.