This post contains affiliate links. My daughter is in a book club, and her teacher recommended the book Kindred by Octavia Butler for her to read when she was about 17. She told me, and I promptly ordered it from the library. What an amazing book! How have I never heard of Octavia Butler before?
About Kindred by Octavia Butler
The story opens with Dana, a black woman, and her husband, Kevin, a white man 12 years her senior, having just moved into a new home. They’re unpacking when Dana feels dizzy, and much to Kevin’s astonishment, simply disappears. Dana suddenly finds herself transported to 1815. She sees a young boy drowning. Dana rushes to save him, even giving him CPR, much to his white parents’ horror. As the young boy, Rufus, spits up and seems to recover, Dana finds herself staring down the barrel of Rufus’ father’s shotgun. Suddenly, Dana is back in her own living room. Her husband Kevin says she had vanished for just a few seconds.
So begins Dana’s saga of trying to save Rufus’ life. Whenever Rufus is in serious danger, Dana is summoned. Butler doesn’t exactly explain how Dana is summoned each time or how the transporting happens, but she doesn’t have to. I was completely happy to suspend my disbelief and immerse myself in this story.
Because Dana goes back to the South during times of slavery, her life is also frequently in jeopardy. The story gets even more interesting when Kevin goes back in time with her, and they must pretend that Kevin is the master and Dana his slave.
This story is at times agonizing to read because of the cruelty the slaves endure. Yet, their story is one that must be told.
My Thoughts on the Book
Kindred is one of the best books I’ve read this year, but I would have loved Butler to also delve into how Dana’s actions may have changed history. Clearly, Dana’s presence in Rufus’ life changed his life and the lives of some of the slaves. Butler could have examined this to make the story even richer.
However, I still highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoy historical fiction.
I give Kindred by Octavia Butler 5 out 5 on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
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