Saturday, September 05, 2015


KindredKindred by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a deeply disturbing book, and that's a good thing. People should be disturbed when they read accounts of American slavery, just as people should be disturbed when they read accounts of the Holocaust. And the two were linked in my mind as I read Kindred.

Dana is a black woman in 1976, transported back in time to early-19th C. Maryland, to the farm where her ancestors were held in bondage. As I read Kindred I kept thinking about Jane Yolen's Number the Stars, a YA novel about a Jewish teen transported in time to the Holocaust.

A 21st c. reader has difficulty conceptualizing the horror of those eras, but through the vehicle of excellent novels the events are magnified for a modern person who knows, or at least has been told, how evil slavery is or how horrific the Holocaust was. Seeing it through contemporary eyes can help awaken the reader to the reality of the events.

I would like to see Kindred on high school reading lists, especially in those states that persist in trying to re-write history to downplay slavery as a role in the Civil War, or tries to smooth over the evils of a slave owning society. That's unlikely to happen, but one can hope.

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