A tale of slavery awes with bravery, cruelty

“The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd; Penguin (359 pages, $28)

From the opening words that place 10-year-old Hetty, a slave girl whose mama calls her Handful, in the courtyard of a Charleston plantation, “The Invention of Wings” tells a story of strength, sorrow and shame.

For Handful is presented as a birthday gift to one of the many children of the South Carolina estate, Sarah Grimke, to mark her 11th birthday. One child being given another — shameful.

But Sue Monk Kidd’s deft writing takes us into the hearts and minds of both of these girls immediately, as Sarah tells her mother she has no need to own a slave.

Most of this book is about Sarah, Nina and Handful. A few men play important but small roles. But this beautiful and ultimately uplifting book is about women and their fight to be heard.

No wonder Oprah Winfrey picked “The Invention of Wings” for her book club. It’s a most deserving choice.


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