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The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.
Hetty “Handful” Grimke is an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston who longs for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. Sarah, the Grimkes’ daughter, has known from an early age that she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.
This book begins on Sarah’s eleventh birthday in 1803, when she is given ownership of ten-year-old Handful who is to be her waiting maid, and follows the remarkable journey of these two girls over the next thirty-five years. Both girls strive for a life of their own and shape each other’s destinies, forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement, and the uneasy ways of love.
This exquisitely written novel looks directly at one of the most devastating wounds in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved. Handful endures loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah finds her place as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.
Excerpt: There was a time in Africa the people could fly. Mauma told me this one night when I was ten years old. She said, “Handful, your granny- mauma saw it for herself. She say they flew over trees and clouds. She say they flew like blackbirds. When we came here, we left that magic behind.”
Sue Monk Kidd published her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, in 2002. It has been translated into 36 languages and sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. and 8 million copies worldwide, and was adapted into a movie which won the NAACP Image award for best picture.
The Invention of Wings, Kidd’s third novel. Sue Monk Kidd serves on the board of advisors for Poets & Writers, Inc. She lives in Southwest Florida with her husband, Sandy, and their black lab, Lily.