The Invention of Wing is a duel narration by Sarah, an eleven-year-old girl, and the slave she has been given for her birthday, Handful (aka, Hetty), who is about the same age. We begin in the early 1800s. Sarah is not your typical eleven-year-old. She's very intelligent, reads her father's books from his library, aspires to be a lawyer like her father, and most importantly, is against slavery.
Throughout her life, her hopes and dreams are continually crushed, but she never gets past her negative feelings about slavery. The book covers over 40 years and follows Sarah as she moves north and she and her sister, Angelina, become infamous abolitionists, and also some of the first feminists.
Handful gives her perspective through the eyes of a slave. She and Sarah become friends and Sarah teachers her to read, an act for which they are both severely punished. Handful's mother, Charlotte, is also a vivid character. She's the plantation's seamstress, but also secretly makes quilts which enrich the historical accuracy of the story. Handful goes through much hardship, as you would expect, but continues to have a beautiful spirit which shines through.
Sarah's voice is one of my favorite things about The Invention of Wings. The way she speaks is intelligent and witty. I became mesmerized as she tells her story. While The Invention of Wings is a story about slavery, it's really about the lives of these characters, and not just these two. All of the characters come alive.
Sarah and Angelina are historical figures as are several other characters. Sue Monk Kidd gives extensive author's notes at the end to explain her research and what is fictional. I can't explain why this book is so special to me. The historical setting and the characters' voices are exceptional. I just want everyone to read it.
As I said, the audio version is also one of the best I've listened to. The narrators (Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye) just make you believe they ARE the characters.
This is, for sure, my #1 book of 2016.
Published by Thorndike Press, 2014
Audiobook obtained from the library
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