Having loved Sue Monk Kidd’s other books, The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, I was excited to read her latest novel, The Invention of Wings. Based on the true story of Sarah Grimke, one of the best known abolitionists of the early 19th century, and her (fictional) friend and slave, Handful, Kidd’s story chronicles the relationship of these two women over three tumultuous decades. As Sarah, with great sacrifice, uses her position as a child of the South to speak against slavery, Handful struggles to survive, enduring torture, betrayal, and loss. All the while she forges her own path in pursuit of freedom and societal change.
Readers can almost feel the pain of the whip as it tears human flesh. They can hear the cries of physical and emotional suffering. Kidd has created characters that most writers can only aspire to create. Her characters are memorable and real. Their experiences are palpable. And their motivations are clear and understandable, even those of the antagonists.
I found one particular line of dialog so compelling that, in my opinion, it defines the human condition. It will resonate with me for a very long time. I won’t tell you what it is. You’ll want to find your own.