Tuesday, January 28, 2014

sue monk kidd at sixth & i


Last week I found myself on a Monday night with a few different choices for the evening (always a good place to find yourself).  After a quick game of "eeny-meeny-minee-mo," I decided to trek out to a book reading event for Sue Monk Kidd's new book, The Invention of Wings, held at a historic synagogue I'd been meaning to check out, hosted by a bookstore I've been meaning to go to. I'd read The Secret Life of Bees in college and loved it, and thought, "What a lucky coincidence that all three things I like have come together in a single event!" and so off I went.

I love going to book readings with author Q&A's because I love hearing about the process - coming up with an idea, how the research went, what obstacles they had to confront, what the final result looks like from an author's perspective - and this event fit the bill.  After a quick introduction, Ms. Kidd got up and spoke about how her interest was sparked at the Brooklyn Museum, by a list of names.  She came across two that she had never seen before: two sisters who had come from Charleston, South Carolina and worked towards the emancipation of slaves in the United States during the 19th century.

The synagogue itself is a really lovely building, founded in the early 20th century as a place for the community to come and worship.  I decided to buy a copy of the book at the door, without having so much as read a blurb about it, and then plopped myself down on a pew between two women I didn't know, cracked open the spine and started to read before the event began.

Here's the skinny:

Basic plot:
Two women find their way in life on the opposite sides of slavery - Sarah, a free white girl, is presented with a slave girl, Hetty "Handful," at her eleventh birthday.  Both have dreams and aspirations; the story straddles the two as they struggle and grow up.

On a scale from 1 to Cripplingly Depressing:
1.  Slavery is a major topic in this book, but the primary focus is on the main characters and the scope of their lives.  Violence is not described in gruesome detail.

Memories from reading:
This was a weekend and at-breakfast kind of book for me.  I spent most of Saturday with it, and then, when I could, read bits in the morning while I ate.  It was a book I wanted to finish. 

Sarah's mother.  I think there were so many missed opportunities to talk about why she was the way she was, instead of leaving her as an impenetrable wall of obnoxiousness.

Favorite relationships:
Handful and her mother, Charlotte.  Those were the passages I could imagine most vividly in my mind.

Weapon of Choice:
Hardcover, physical book.  Not one I would carry around in my bag on the subway.

Other titles by this author:
The Secret Life of Bees
The Mermaid Chair
Traveling with Pomegranates
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter
When the Heart Waits

Have you read The Invention of Wings? What did you think?

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