"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

20 April 2014

2014 Book Review #15: The Invention of Wings

I was on the library waiting list for this novel for over a month and so was pleasantly surprised when my younger sister Joy said I could borrow her copy.  She likes to buy books...I tend to borrow books from the town library because I love our library and it gives me something to do while I'm waiting for my 15 year old to finish up a ballet class. or two. or three. Seriously, I was  thrilled when I borrowed this book from Joy last week.  I LOVED the author's book The Secret Life of Bees and this one was just as good!!  It did NOT disappoint and I read it in less than a week. Of course it helped that I was on spring break all this past week as well. :)


This book begins in 1803 and goes until about 1829.  It is historical fiction set in South Carolina.

Sarah Grimke is the 11 year old daughter of a prosperous Charleston family in 1803.  She does not want to be like her sisters and mother...she feels that she has a good intellect and should do something big in the world rather than the typical marriage and birthing children that her mother is training her to do.  She is one of several brothers and sisters and at her 11 year old birthday party, she is given, as a gift, a young slave girl named Hetty ("Handful").  Handful feels like she is suffocating in this household as a slave. Her mother, Charlotte, has been the main seamstress slave for years.  Handful is to be Sarah's handmaid.

For the next 35 years, we see Handful and Sarah's lives intermingle.

Handful will experience much loss and sorrow in the years leading up to the end of the book.  She finds courage and a sense of her self. 

Sarah will experience ostracism from her family and city, betrayal, dashed hopes and dreams, and unrequited love....all before leaving Charleston to find her place in the world alongside her younger sister Angelina (Nina) who is fearless and a very emotionally strong woman.  

Sarah and Angelina are the pioneers of the early abolitionist and women's rights movements.

Will Handful ever taste freedom from being a slave?

Will Sarah and Angelina ever find love?

Will Sarah find her place in the world?


This was an excellent book. The characters are rich and capture your attention right away.  The mother-daughter relationship between Sarah and her abusive mother is so well written....I find my self despising Sarah's mother....and feeling sorry for her at the same time.  She had no idea how to treat people.

I loved Handful and her spunk.  I loved her mother Charlotte and her strength even during times of horrible abuse.  I loved Sarah yet it was Handful's character that really drew me in to this story.  

I didn't realize until the end when I read the author's notes, that Sarah and Angelina really did live in the 1800s and really did pioneer the abolition movement.  It is sad to me, and the author makes mention of this, that we do not know of these women via our history books.  Women's accomplishments from that era are not often talked about, read about or learned in our educational establishments. It is very interesting to read about them in the author's notes.  The author did fictionalize many parts of the story but she does inform us of the true-life events that actually took place and said she read diaries and journals of Sarah's in her research before writing the novel.

This is an excellent choice to learn more about the evils of slavery in the southern states and to learn about how real women did have an impact on society and the abolition movement as well as general women's rights in the 1800s.  

This book will open up your eyes to the realities and evils of slavery....and will expose you to two young women who made a huge impact here in the northern states to try to abolish slavery in the southern states.  I was cheering them on the entire way.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Susanne said...

I will add this to my library list. I haven't seen it as yet but I'm sure it's there. I'll probably have to put a hold on it online.

Deb said...

I'm so glad I read this review. I loved Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees so I will look for this book. Sounds like one I would really enjoy!

Melanie Lopata said...

This sounds good. I especially love when the characters capture my attention right off the bat, it makes me get into the story more.