Besides all the parenting books I’ve been reading lately in order to effectively raise Thing One and Thing Two so that they do not end up overtired, maladjusted or selfish, I have joined a book club. Our first book is The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I’ve not read any of her other books so this was an introduction to her work for me. (Don’t read this post if you don’t want spoilers. I don’t know if I’m going to spill the beans or not but let’s be on the safe side – go read something else if you’re vehemently anti-spoily.)
I’m about 3/4 of the way through the book and I’m enjoying it pretty well. My Kindle version includes Oprah’s annotations which are short and fairly obvious – she’s not blowing my mind with insight, but that’s ok.
The issue I’m thinking of while I read it is that the book is written by a white woman and she writes from two perspectives: the slave and the slave owner. I’m thinking of how I feel about a modern white woman writing about the 19th century slave experience. There are appropriately and predictably horrifying moments in the story – Handful’s stint in the work house on the treadmill comes to mind (although the author avoids getting too graphic by fading to black then switching narrators before coming back to Handful after she’s been fetched from the work house). But sometimes it feels like a white woman who’s read a lot of history and “knows” about slavery from a fairly specific (read: white) perspective so that the text ends up feeling like there’s just too much distance between the author and her subjects.
I heard a snippet of an interview with Sue Monk Kidd where she said race continues to be an important issue for her. It should be. It should be for all of us. But her book seems to lack the momentum to dig in deeper to the issue and challenge the reader to reconsider a new perspective.
I like the book, don’t get me wrong, but if reading was as easy as “like” or “dislike” we wouldn’t be here reading this blog, would we? I’ll continue to think about it and get back to you if I have different feelings.