The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings

I downloaded this book onto my Kindle a few weeks ago at the insistence of my friend Victoria. She said that it was the best book she’d read in a while, and that was enough to convince me to give it a shot.

I’m glad to say that Victoria did not let me down.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is the story of two women: Sarah Grimke, the eldest daughter of wealthy Charleston slaveowners, and her slave, Hetty “Handful” Grimke. Based on the true story of Sarah Grimke, a slaveowners-daughter-turned-anti-slavery-activist, The Invention of Wings follows the characters from childhood into their forties and shows the similarities women face everywhere despite how their circumstances may be drastically different.

When we first meet Sarah and Hetty, Sarah is [forcibly] given Hetty as a gift for her eleventh birthday by her parents, and neither character is prepared to just lay down and accept their circumstances. As a woman in the early nineteenth century, Sarah is essentially a slave to her circumstances – she desperately desires to be a lawyer like her father, but, due to society’s patriarchal view of women at the time, is forced to give up those dreams by her family. She desperately desires to do free her slave, Hetty, and the other slaves on her family’s homestead, but her family does everything in their power to squash those desires. Obviously, Hetty’s slavery to her circumstances is a bit more… obvious.

Over the course of the story, readers follow Sarah and Hetty’s separate journeys through love, loss, religious conversion, family drama, torture, slave revolts, and the abolitionist movement.

I found all of that interesting, but the most interesting fact of the book for me was that for all the women in the book, their most impactful relationships aren’t with men, but instead with other women. With all of the #YesAllWomen publicity and controversy (perfectly timed with my reading this book!), I think its so uplifting to find a story about the relationships that women share, and how those relationships morph and change girls into the women they want to be. The Invention of Wings was such a story. I would definitely recommend picking it up next time you’re at the book store (or perusing for your next Kindle book purchase!).