It is not often that I encounter a book that continues to run circles in my mind for weeks after I close the cover. But The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd continues to sneak its way into my thoughts on a daily basis.
On a grand scheme, the novel tackles women’s rights, civil rights, and female relationships. And while I was reading, I did appreciate these themes and felt impassioned about all sorts of causes. The book tells the story of real life abolitionists Sarah and Nina Grimke, Southern women who chose to break the mold cast for females in their time. It is told in dual perspective, from Sarah and from her slave, Handful. Their honest and powerful voices carry this novel through to the end.
Readers will be reminded and appropriately horrified at the tortures of slavery and the injustice of gender views, but that is not what keeps me returning to the pages to reread passages. What sucked me in and continued to enchant me throughout all 359 pages was the character development. Yes, I know I just revealed what an English nerd I am. Who would have thought the term “character development” would ever work its way into my personal writing and not five paragraph college essays?
But it’s true. I fell in love with Handful from the first moment I met her. Sarah took me a little longer to love.
That’s just it. This was a book that I felt something for the characters. I could have a conversation with either of them and I cried too as they became friends, women, broken, and freed. I couldn’t tear myself away from the sticky South Carolina sun in the bedroom of a girl who didn’t want the slave girl for her eleventh birthday present. I also couldn’t bring myself to leave the tiny dimly lit sewing room with one window and a quilt frame in the ceiling that held countless secrets.
If you love words, read this book. If you love history, read this book. If you are a woman, read this book. The Invention of Wings brought female strength to the page in the form of two women searching for themselves. But more importantly than that, I finished the story wishing I could tell Handful my own secrets.
Have you read this book? Who was your favorite character?