I was absolutely captivated by Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. This was my first time reading a first person narrative of slavery but because it was a black woman from 1976 that gets pulled back in time to 1810-1830, it just created this really interesting dynamic and discussion on race. The slavery accounts were, of course, brutal, and a bit difficult to read, but Butler didn’t focus too much on the physical torture, as awful as it was, but more on the mental pain. What really came through because of Butler’s focus on the mental pain was just how strong willed and resilient these men and women were that were considered property. This helped me understand what this group of people went through more than a history book because I connected with these characters on a personal level.
The story is about a young black woman named Dana, that is pulled through time to save her white ancestor, a snot of a kid, whose father owns a plantation, and slaves. She also finds the black girl that is her ancestor too, that will end up having a child with this white boy. When Dana’s own life is in danger she goes back to her own time period but where weeks or months have gone by in the past, only minutes or hours have passed in the future. Her husband, a white guy, grabs onto Dana when she makes a trip back in time, and they are both in this foreign world, where men own other men.
This is a powerful novel showing how our environment influences us for both the good and bad. One reason I loved this novel so much was because the setting in the past was the Maryland Eastern Shore, the place where I live. Throughout the novel, the author refers to towns and rivers that are still around today, places I’ve been. This gave me a connection to the novel that only people from the area could understand because there is still a lot of racial tension in this part of the country. I learned that many of the great slavery abolitionists came from this area of the country and I am very excited about looking into some of that history now.
I’d recommend this book to anyone that wants a better understanding of the plight that blacks when through. It is heartbreaking to know that humans did this to other humans. I think through reading this I gained more sympathy towards black Americans and strengthened my own beliefs on equality. Octavia E. Butler is a great writer that wrote the dialogue in this book in a very readable way. I will be getting all her books now, haha. This was a great book that I can’t recommend enough, in my top 5 favorite books read in 2016.
22/25 Possible Score
3 – Plot
5 – Characters
4 – Setting
5 – Writing Style
5 – Heart & Mind Aspect