Kindred

I actually read Kindred, by Octavia Butler, last year, but did not review it when I finished it because there was so much from the story to process and absorb. What I’ve discovered in the months that have passed since I finished it, is that it was a powerfully haunting experience to read it. I’ve thought a lot about it and don’t know when a book has stuck with me, haunted me, quite like this one. It was a powerful reading experience because Octavia Butler, being such a gifted writer/storyteller, makes you feel as if you are right there with her main character, Dana, throughout all her experiences, in the past and in the present. Those experiences were profoundly life-changing. Experiencing firsthand the life of her enslaved ancestors, being catapulted back and forth to the time of her ancestors and then back to her life in present times brought an incredible depth to Dana’s understanding of her own life experience. And it had a powerful impact on those of us who traveled with her. It is definitely a book I would highly recommend, although it is not an easy story. And for anyone wanting to gain more understanding of the black experience in this country, this is a creative and fascinating book to read.

from the publisher:

Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.

During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.

Author Octavia E. Butler skillfully juxtaposes the serious issues of slavery, human rights, and racial prejudice with an exciting science-fiction, romance, and historical adventure.

I chose to read this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

 

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “WANDERLUST: Reading the States,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each of the 50 United States. This book took place in Maryland.

9 thoughts on “Kindred

      1. Marlo Quick

        I liked it very much. Her writing really made me see and feel what Dana was experiencing. The physical toll was great but the psychological toll was excruciating. Putting a modern character into the 1860s helped to add more understanding to the horrendous lives of the enslaved and how that time in history is not gone from us today.

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  1. Les in OR

    I’ve had this on my mental TBR list for years! I think I first heard about it from Andi (Estella’s Revenge blog) and I keep meaning to get a copy at the library, but haven’t done so. Yet. I’m putting together a fall reading list and this will be at the top. Thanks for the reminder, Robin!

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  2. ShiraDest

    Hi, Robin: good way to put it. I felt so horribly over-empathetic with my own enslaved ancestresses that I just could not write a decent review of the book when I read it, a few years ago. Now I need to read it again.

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