#10: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

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Sorry for the late episode, but Jess’ book pick for February (& black history month!) was The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Some of us liked it, but there were definitely mixed feelings about this one. In our review we talk about slave narratives, the history of the American south, cultural appropriation (especially where black history is concerned), intersectional feminism, and lots more.

Discussion Questions:

  1. The Invention of Wings is historical fiction with a healthy dose of “fiction”. Given that Handful and many of the slaves’ narratives in the novel were well-researched but ultimately created by Sue Monk Kidd, did you find their stories believable? Did you find that Handful’s story in particular was realistic and meshed with your knowledge and understanding of Southern slavery at the time?
  2. We get two very different representations of mother-daughter relationships in this novel, and both Sarah and Handful are shaped by their complex relationships to their mothers. How do these relationships impact each character, and in what ways are they significant to the novel as a whole?

  3. The Invention of Wings is a novel about slavery written by a white woman, a point many people criticize. Do you think the author was still successful in writing a good novel on this topic? Can the privileged ever truly successfully write about the struggles of the oppressed (i.e. white person writes about slavery, man writes about women’s rights, etc)? Is it necessarily always a bad thing that they try?

  4. Some of the staunchest enemies of slavery believed the time had not yet come for women’s rights and pressured Sarah and Angelina to desist from the cause, fearing it would split the cause of abolition. How do you think the sisters should have responded to their demand? At the end of the novel, Sarah asks, “Is it ever right to sacrifice one’s truth for expedience?”

  5. What is the importance of remembering history, as with the story quilt? When Mary (or Little Missus) finds the quilt, why doesn’t she allow that to exist in the world?

The music in this episode is East St. Louis Blues by Kathleen Martin, which we got from freemusicarchive.org

Happy reading!

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