Red Butterfly

Red Butterfly
Source: Goodreads.com

Red Butterfly

 A.L. Sonnichsen  

Club Selection for February 2017

Pages: 400 
Published February 2nd 2016 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
 
A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this “heartbreaking, heartwarming, and impressive debut” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) told in verse, in the tradition of Inside Out and Back Again and Sold.

Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has…but what if Kara secretly wants more?

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Red Butterfly is the story of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights.

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Carol's Rating:  ★★★★★

"Don't worry if your new life has been tough.
Remember, it takes a while for a butterfly's wings to dry."

Every once in a while a book comes along that imprints itself in you and changes you forever. This is one of them.

A tender, tragic, relishing story of hope, isolation, adaptation, kindness, and love in a world where harsh political policies have triggered harsh choices and consequences for families and children. Though a fictional story about a young Chinese girl being raised in China as an American, it truthfully tells of ethical decisions faced by many in China since the One-Child policy was placed into effect in 1980. There are many questions about the characters that are answered with flawless timing as the story beautifully unfolds at a perfect tempo, keeping you intrigued, hopeful, and deeply moved. The Author's Note at the end of the book is powerful and added yet another layer of love and understanding to the story.

I borrowed this booked from our local library but it is one of the few that I will buy and place on my own shelf where I will see it, re-read it, and experience it again and again.

Happy Reading!

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Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out & Back Again
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai - Book Cover
Source: Goodreads.com

Inside Out & Back Again

Thanhha Lai

Club Selection for February 2017

Pages: 272 | Audio: 2 hrs 30 min
Published February 22nd 2011 by HarperCollins
 
For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family.
 

 

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Carol's Rating:  ★★★

Don't Pass This One By

This is a touching story of Vietnamese family that comes to America for refuge due to the fall of Saigon. Ten year old Ha tells her story in verse, which perfectly conveys the young voice of a child facing mature circumstances and events; her father is missing in action, her mother is doing her best to provide for and protect the family on her own, her country no longer exists, her new home in America is safety yet completely unfamiliar, her family must learn to accept assistance and the generosity of many and overlook cruelties inflicted by others, and Ha must learn to compromise, be grateful, and discover that love and family is the ultimate definition of home.

Ha is an adorable, spunky character that bristles at being told she cannot do something simply because she is a girl. She is smart, yet struggles with feeling stupid due to language and cultural barriers. Her moments in the sunshine are delightful. Best of all, is after having fallen in love with Ha, I discovered she was actually the talented author of this book and these were her experiences.

A wonderful, wonderful story for all ages that you won't want to miss.

Happy Reading!

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Books of the Month – March 2017

Books of the Month – March 2017

Books of the Month - March 2017

Books of the Month - March 2017 - Novel Gobblers Book Club

Wow! March is over already? Did it zip by for you, too? One of the best parts about March was that I finished three books and enjoyed them all. It's my goal this year to work my way through The Henry Family series by Henry Wouk. They are big books so I'm taking my time and trying to absorb as much as I can - it's so interesting! I finished volume one and have now started volume two. I also read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, which was our book club selection and boy, did it ever generate a great discussion. Have you read any of these books? Which books did you enjoy this month?

Some of the books I read are featured in our The Book & Beyond section.  That's where you'll find interesting things about and even beyond the book. I'd love to feature every book I read in The Book & Beyond section but somehow life has happened and I've fallen very behind. 🙂  I promise I'm working to catch up! Even so, you'll want to check out what's there when you're done here - tons of fascinating stuff!

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The Winds of War (The Henry Family, #1)The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An Impactful Must-Read. This is How History Should be Told

If you're looking for an impactful, compelling, unputdownable, entertaining family drama packed with historical facts leading up to and into WWII, this is the book! I learned more about WWII from this book than from any other. Most history books tend to be a snooze for me, regardless of how badly I want to learn the information. But not this one. Herman Wouk is masterful storyteller. His telling of history works because he humanizes it. You experience it through his characters.

Members of the fictional Henry family are completely believable characters; some lovable, some admirable, some total morons, and all with flaws we can relate to. As the members of this military family are spread across the world, we learn about the struggles of those affected by the war be it due to location, heritage, or personal convictions. We learn about the political players and strategic political plays. We learn historical details from different characters with different perspectives. I especially enjoyed that some chapters were devoted to Victor Henry's translation of "World Empire Lost", a history book written by a fictional German general, Armin von Roon, and to which Victor Henry offers his own insights.

My review hardly does justice to this book. But believe me, you don't want to pass this one by. This is how history should be told.

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A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"They say the best men are born of their faults and that they often improve later on, more than if they'd never done anything wrong."

What a delightful read! I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The characters were colorful and true. I enjoyed Backman's writing style; direct, engaging, and beautifully conveys the personalities, trials, and hearts of the characters. A truly heart-warming story of loving people beyond their faults - or maybe even because of them, whether you intend to or not.

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All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1)All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Every dumb thing I ever done before in my life there was a decision I made before that got me into it."

Despite the pretty title, this is a tough story. John Grady Cole has lost his grandfather and the ranch will be sold. It's all John has ever known. He's a cowboy and that's all he ever wants to be. So he and his cousin, both about 17 years old, leave Texas and ride their horses across the border into Mexico. It's 1949. In Texas they tie their horses up outside cafes and gas stations. The moment they cross into Mexico, they step back in time. Desert. Cactus. No motor vehicles, few settlements. The people they meet lead them to hard life and hard choices; some of them life threatening.

I am so glad I read this book. There were many things I loved about it but many things I didn't. What did I love? The contradictory nature. The depth of the story and characters yet the direct, no frills conversations with little show of emotion. The action yet the slow pace. The beauty yet the harshness. I loved that once they passed into Mexico, the descriptions of the land and many of the discussions between the characters we given in Spanish. There was a very distinct feel that you were no longer in Texas nor in 1949! I liked the boys and was impressed with their maturity at such a young age.

What didn't I love? The lack of quotations caused a lot of confusion for me about who was speaking. At times the story would jump forward to a new scene, leaving me confused about how we got there. McCarthy offers beautiful language but the story is not a lullaby like the title implies. It's not a happy story and I was I left with a strong hope that John Grady Cole will somehow find his place and his happiness.

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Hungry for more? Check out  The Book and Beyond,  The Books We've Read, or See all my reviews on Goodreads .

 

Happy Reading!

Novel Gobblers Book Club Icon

Books of the Month – February 2017

Books of the Month – February 2017

Books of the Month - February 2017

A friend gifted me this adorable Owl Calendar by Debbie Mumm and I love it so much that I decided to use it as the backdrop for my new Books of the Month posts. At the end of each month, I'll post about the books I read that month along with a short review of each.  Have you read them? What did you think?  Join in on the fun and leave us a comment!

Some of these books will be featured in our The Book & Beyond section, too. I'd love to tell you that all the books I read will be found in The Book & Beyond but in reality, that probably won't happen.  Even so, you'll want to check out the ones that do make it - there's tons of fascinating stuff in there!

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HMS Nightingale (Alexis Carew, #4)HMS Nightingale by J.A. Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Swashbuckling Interstellar Adventures

In this, the 4th volume, Alexis is promoted to lieutenant and given charge of her own ship only to discover her crew to be a ragtag group of misfits with questionable sailing skills. Facing many challenges in her new role, Alexis leads her crew through exciting encounters, many with pirates and some with - Wait! Could it really be? Ghostly Flying Dutchmen?!

Entertaining and intriguing as always, the story is brought to life by Elizabeth Klett's stellar audio narration. While I enjoyed this book, I enjoyed it less than the other volumes. This is mainly because there seemed to be less of an emotional connection developed between the characters and I felt certain phrases were overused. Still, this volume is important in the overall story and ends with fabulous news - more volumes are coming!

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Red ButterflyRed Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Don't worry if your new life has been tough.
Remember, it takes a while for a butterfly's wings to dry."

Every once in a while a book comes along that imprints itself in you and changes you forever. This is one of them.

A tender, tragic, relishing story of hope, isolation, adaptation, kindness, and love in a world where harsh political policies have triggered harsh choices and consequences for families and children. Though a fictional story about a young Chinese girl being raised in China as an American, it truthfully tells of ethical decisions faced by many in China since the One-Child policy was placed into effect in 1980. There are many questions about the characters that are answered with flawless timing as the story beautifully unfolds at a perfect tempo, keeping you intrigued, hopeful, and deeply moved. The Author's Note at the end of the book is powerful and added yet another layer of love and understanding to the story.

I borrowed this booked from our local library but it is one of the few that I will buy and place on my own shelf where I will see it, re-read it, and experience it again and again.

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A Fall of MarigoldsA Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Unpredictable & Unputdownable

Two periods in time, 100 years apart, uniquely linked by a delicate piece of fabric; a scarf, embellished with marigolds, weaving it's way through time and tying together the lives of all whose hands through which it passes. Lovely, delicate, fragile, strong, resilient. These words describe the scarf and the characters that have experienced harrowing, tragic events and work to move beyond the emotional outfall.

At times, I was bewildered by the actions of the characters, which to me seemed foolish and nonsensical. But in contemplation, the reality is that the emotional havoc wreaked on those who experience traumatic events often causes illogical thinking and actions. The story is realistic and lovely, and seamlessly accomplishes the highest objective for the reader - to truly empathize with the characters and experience their story along with them.

Meissner is a masterful storyteller, reminding us that large and small acts of kindness can spark powerful hope and strength in ways that is often unseen by the giver.
"Love is the only true constant in a fragile world."

Read it. You'll be all the better for it.

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Inside Out & Back AgainInside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don't Pass This One By

This is a touching story of Vietnamese family that comes to America for refuge due to the fall of Saigon. Ten year old Ha tells her story in verse, which perfectly conveys the young voice of a child facing mature circumstances and events; her father is missing in action, her mother is doing her best to provide for and protect the family on her own, her country no longer exists, her new home in America is safety yet completely unfamiliar, her family must learn to accept assistance and the generosity of many and overlook cruelties inflicted by others, and Ha must learn to compromise, be grateful, and discover that love and family is the ultimate definition of home.

Ha is an adorable, spunky character that bristles at being told she cannot do something simply because she is a girl. She is smart, yet struggles with feeling stupid due to language and cultural barriers. Her moments in the sunshine are delightful. Best of all, is after having fallen in love with Ha, I discovered she was actually the talented author of this book and these were her experiences.

A wonderful, wonderful story for all ages that you won't want to miss.

Last year we read The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen's 2016 Pulitzer Prize winning novel. It is also set at the time of the fall of Saigon yet gives an adult perspective to the story. It was interesting to compare the differences between the characters and their experiences in these two books. See more about The Sympathizer.

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Hungry for more? Check out  The Book and Beyond,  The Books We've Read, or See all my Goodreads reviews.

 

Happy Reading!

Wondrous Words Wednesday – February 15

Wondrous Words Wednesday – February 15

 

Have you learned some new words lately?  Share them at Wondrous Words Wednesday (hosted by Bermudaonion.net). “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading."

I am super excited to tell you about several new words from my reading this week.

 
First, I came across 3 new words in HMS Nightingale by JA Sutherland, with two of them in a single sentence!
 
"Alexis felt as though she was treading waters filled with sharks; sharks and a particularly vapid remora."
 
  • vap·id /adjective/ offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging.
  • rem·o·ra /noun/  a slender marine fish that attaches itself to large fish by means of a sucker on top of its head. It generally feeds on the host's external parasites.

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Alexis uses this next word often, especially when commanding her crew. Of course, "instant" and "instantly" are not new to me but I had never heard someone use "instanter" until I read this series.

"See the men back on the boat. Instanter!"

  •  in·stan·ter - adverb     Without delay; instantly.

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Lastly, I heard the following new word in the audiobook The Winds of War by Herman Wouk, but I can't remember the actual sentence so here's a generic example of how it's used.
 
 
 "All this is so anodyne as to be completely unobjectionable."
 
  • an·o·dyne  /adjective/  Not likely to cause offense or disagreement and somewhat dull.
  • an·o·dyne  /noun/  A painkilling drug or medicine.

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Don't you love it when your reading expands your vocabulary?

What Wondrous new Words did you learn this week?

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

WWW Wednesday: February 8th

WWW Wednesday: February 8th

WWW Wednesday: 8th of February 2017

The WWW Wednesday blog-hop is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

It’s a great  way to do a weekly update, connect with other book lovers,  and see what they’re reading this week.

How does it work?

Just answer the three questions in the comments/reply section below for others to look at. Be sure to leave a link to your blog post. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses.

Please, take some time to read the comments and visit the participant blogs  so you can see what others are reading. You can also pop over to Sam’s blog, Taking on a World of Words, to see where it all started.

 

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m Currently Reading

 

 

I’m listening to the audiobook narrated by Elizabeth Klett. She delivers a spectacular performance for an equally spectacular story.

I LOVE THIS SERIES.  Here’s why.  

 

 

 

 

 

One of my goals this year is to slowly work my way through both Herman Wouk’s volumes of The Henry Family Series – #1 The Winds of War and #2 War and Remembrance. It’s a fascinating story and wonderful account of history leading up to and into WWII. I’m learning a ton and enjoying it!

 

 

 

What I Recently Finished Reading

 

Simply Terrific. Both of them.

Click below to find out why they are now among my favorites.

The Invention of Wings

Red Butterfly

 

 

 What I Might Read Next

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them?

What’s your WWW for this week?

Be sure to leave your link and a comments below (if you’re so inclined) and visit the blog posts of other participants. 

 

The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd

Club Selection for January 2017

Pages: 384 / Audio: 13 hrs 46 min

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world—and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.


Carol's Rating:  ★★★★★

"My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it's the other way around."

This beautiful, moving story of hope and courage stirred my heart and mind through and through. I listened to the audiobook where narrators Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye give a dazzling performance and portrayal of two young women; one white, one black; the same age, the same time period, the same plantation - yet living in two separate worlds of expectations and both yearning for freedom.

The story is rich in symbolism and purpose. "She (mauma) use to say, you got to figure out which end of the needle you gon be, the one that's fastened to the thread or the end that pierces the cloth." I became emotionally connected to these fabulous characters as they took measures to protect their minds and spirits from being broken by society throughout their journeys to stay true to their convictions for human rights. I learned that Sarah and Nina Grimke were true historical figures. I learned about Denmark Vecey, story quilts, and spirit trees. I learned once again that we are all "meant to do something in the world, something larger than (ourselves)".

Read it. You'll love it, too.

About the Author

Sue Monk Kidd lived one of those perfect, small town, southern childhoods (except for the swarm of bees in the walls of her 100-year-old house).

She could walk to the drugstore and charge a cherry Coke to her father. Or to Empire Mercantile and charge a pair of cheerleader socks to her mom. By the time she got home, her parents would know what color socks she’d bought and what size Coke she’d drunk.

But the 1964 Civil Rights Movement changed Sue’s idyll forever. Her high school class became the first to integrate. She was 16 and old enough to understand racism’s cruelty. It stayed with her.

In 1970, Sue earned a B.S. in Nursing from Texas Christian University. She worked as nurse, met her husband, Sanford (Sandy), a Baptist minister, and had two children.

In her 30s, she left nursing for full-time mothering, taught Sunday School, and wrote inspirational essays for Guideposts Christian magazine. They led to her first memoir, God’s Joyful Surprise, published at age 40. Source: Debra Eve's Late Bloomer

In her forties, Kidd turned her attention to writing fiction, winning the South Carolina Fellowship in Literature and the 1996 Poets & Writers Exchange Program in Fiction. Her short stories appeared in TriQuarterly, Nimrod, and other literary journals and received a Katherine Anne Porter award and citations in Best American Short Stories’ 100 Distinguished Stories.

Since then she has written several bestsellers such as The Secret Life of Bees (2002), The Mermaid Chair (2005), Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story (2009), and The Invention of Wings (2014).  Her novels have earned international acclaim and multiple literary awards as well as some having been adapted into award wining movies.

Kidd serves on the Writers Council for Poets & Writers, Inc.  She lives in Southwest Florida with her husband, Sandy, and dog, Barney.   Source: Suemonkkidd.com

 

Interviews & Other Cool Stuff

After reading The Invention of Wings, I was motivated to learn more about the author and the Grimke sisters. What inspired her to write the story? Where did her research begin and where did it take her? How did she come up with fictional characters and the structure of the story?

I discovered a lot of interesting booty!  I'm excited to share it with you - to take you deeper into, and even beyond the book.

Listen to this short, compelling NPR interview where Kidd offers loads of insight into the inspiration behind the story. Then keep scrolling to learn even more!

 

January 8, 2014
Heard on NPR:All Things Considered
Sue Monk Kidd's new novel is a story told by two women whose lives are wrapped together — beginning, against their wills, when they're young girls. One is a slave; the other, her reluctant owner. One strives her whole life to be free; the other rebels against her slave-owning family and becomes a prominent abolitionist and early advocate for women's rights.

The book, The Invention of Wings, takes on both slavery and feminism — and it's inspired by the life of a real historical figure.

 

Sue Monk Kidd provides a super cool Book Club Kit on her website that includes a conversation with the author, quotes, and recipes. Here are a few tidbits:

History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another's pain in the heart our own."

~ Professor Julius Lester

I first came upon the Grimké sisters in 2007 while visiting Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Their names were listed on the Heritage Panels, which honor 999 women who’ve made important contributions to western history. Later, I was astonished to discover they were from Charleston, South Carolina, the same city in which I was then living. Somehow I’d never heard of these two amazing women, but I immediately dove in, learning everything I could, and the more I learned, the more excited I became. I discovered that Sarah and Angelina were from a wealthy slave-holding family, at the top of the planter class, moving in the elite circles of society, and yet they broke with everything, their family, religion, homeland and traditions, and became the first female abolition agents in America and among the earliest feminist thinkers. They were, arguably, the most radical females to ever come out of the antebellum South. I fell in love with their story. I was especially drawn to Sarah. I was moved by how thoroughly life was arranged against her and what she overcame, by how deeply she yearned to have a voice in the world, by how utterly human she was, and how determinedly she invented her wings.

image of quilt by Harriet Powers
Story Quilt by Harriet Powers

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I was inspired by the quilts of Harriet Powers, who was born into slavery in 1837 in Georgia. She used West African applique technique and designs to tell stories, mostly about Biblical events, legends, and astronomical occurrences. Each of the squares on her two surviving quilts is a masterpiece of art and narration. After viewing her quilt in the archives of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., it seemed more than plausible to me that many enslaved women, who were forbidden to read and write, would have devised subversive ways to voice themselves, to keep their memories alive, and to preserve their African heritage. In the novel, Charlotte is the Grimke’s rebellious and accomplished seamstress, and I envisioned her using needle and cloth the way others use paper and pen, attempting to set down the events of her life in a single quilt. She appliques it with strange, beautiful images—slaves flying through the air, spirit trees with their trunks wrapped in red thread—but she also sews violent and painful images of her punishments and loss. The quilt in the novel is meant to be more than a warm blanket or a nice piece of handiwork. It is Charlotte’s story. As Handful says, “Mauma had sewed where she came from, who she was, what she loved, the things she’d suffered and the things she hoped. She’d found a way to tell it.

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Who Were The Grimke Sisters?

Louise W. Knight, author and historian, provides some great history about the sisters and even addresses the issue of the unflattering "photographs" of the women that are widely associated with them.  I was happy to see some different photos of them; ones taken when they were in their 70's (Sarah) and 60's (Angelina). Plus, if you're ever in Charleston, the Preservation Society offers a Grimke Sisters Tour. How cool is that?

Born near the turn of the 19th century, Sarah and Angelina Grimké were white Southern aristocrats of Charleston, South Carolina whose fate at birth seem sealed: by rights they should have married well, mothered many children and managed the slaves who ran their households.  Instead, they rejected slavery, which they hated, moved to Philadelphia, and converted to Quakerism, wrongly supposing that it continued to embrace the cause of antislavery. In time, rejected by the Quakers for their reform work, the sisters became social activists in the causes of abolition and ending racial prejudice. Making the principle that no man should have dominion over another man their own, they became the first American women to make a fully developed case against the oppression of women and for women's equal rights.

Sarah Grimké (1792-1873)

Sarah, the older sister, had a scholar's bent, with a judicious mind. Once she established her carefully arrived at conclusions, she never budged, regardless of the consequences. A deeply spiritual person, she was the more tender-hearted of the two sisters. Older by 13 years, Sarah devoted herself to Angelina's care and education to such a degree that Angelina called her "mother" until she reached her twenties.  One of the fascinating stories in the book is that of Angelina's influence on Sarah, her beloved and admired sister, at a crucial turning point in their lives. Sarah turned down two marriage proposals, her ambition being aimed in a more unusual direction - that of being a Quaker minister. Sarah was a moderately skilled speaker but her brilliant mind (she had aspired to be a judge, like their father) produced some of the strongest arguments for women's rights ever penned in her Letters on the Equality of the Sexes (1837/1838). She also published a moving pamphlet appealing to Christian ministers of the south to oppose slavery (1837). In  1838, she went to live with the newly married Angelina in Fort Lee, New Jersey, helped raise three children, taught in the schools Angelina and her husband Theodore Weld founded, and continued to engage  in social action -- particularly the growing women's rights movement of the 1850s, though rarely in person.

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Angelina Grimké (1805-1879)

Angelina was by instinct a woman of action, and a natural prosecutor, ready to make a forceful case. Compelled by her hunger for the truth, she possessed great courage in the face of condemnation. Though a gentle personality, she was also a passionate speaker who could command audiences of thousands with the force of her arguments and her unmatched eloquence. She published an appeal to (white) Christian women of the south to petition state legislatures to end slavery, and an appeal to white and black women of the north to join the abolitionist cause. She also was the first American woman to address a legislative body. The opening of her speech, in support of abolitionist petitions to the Massachusetts state legislature, is posted on this website under "Long form blog." (LINK). When she was 33 years old, and at the peak of her fame as a public speaker and organizer, Angelina  Grimké married the nation's most prominent abolitionist speaker and organizer, Theodore Weld. Now Angelina Grimké Weld, she and her sister lived with Theodore for the rest of their lives. They raised three children, founded and taught in many schools, and continued to engage in social action, although in less frequent and less prominent way.

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What about Those Famous Pictures of the Sisters?
  The images to the left (Sarah, far left, Angelina, immediate left) are widely used, both in books and on the internet.  The reason is that for many years they were the only images available. Furthermore, they appear to be of the period when the sisters were active in social change campaigns. The two photos above,  less frequently published, were taken when they were much older.

But there is a problem with these images. First of all, although they are frequently described as "photographs," they are not. They are not even daguerreotypes. Rather they are wood engravings based on daguerreotypes that have since disappeared. 

Thus the first question to ask about these images is -- Are they accurate as representations? The answer, obviously, is no.  Indeed, while I have yet to track down where these engravings were first published, it is very likely they appeared first in a periodical of the 1830s that disapproved of the sisters for being abolitionists and wished to portray them as peculiar and unappealing. This was a common practice of the time -- to draw people as ugly if you disapproved of their politics or, in the case of African Americans, of their race. I see these engravings more as political cartoons than as legitimate representations of the sisters.

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Southern Abolitionist Angelina Grimké | The Abolitionists

In this video adapted from the American Experience: “The Abolitionists,” featuring historical reenactments, learn about the daughter of South Carolina slaveholders who devoted her life to ending slavery and winning equal rights for women. Angelina Grimké and her sister Sarah drew upon their strong religious beliefs from an early age to oppose slavery in their native state and throughout the United States. After moving north, they became prominent writers and speakers in both the abolitionist movement and the struggle to obtain equal rights for women. This resource is part of the American Experience collection.

Book Club Mojo

Our entire reading group enjoyed reading and discussing The Invention of Wings.

We discussed how thankful we are for these women and the sacrifices they made toward equal rights that allow women and black people of today so many more freedoms than were ever experienced in their own time period. We talked of having to repress your aspirations for the sake of societal expectations, the alternating perspectives of the two main characters, Sarah and Handful,  the complicated relationships between the characters, and how learning to read is a form of freedom in itself.

The topics led to further discussions about why groups of people oppress other groups of people, and why the oppressors will follow along with such behavior? We noted this to be a common thread among some of the books we've read, for example, The Handmaid's Tale, and yet how slavery and oppression have spanned nearly every culture and nationality from ancient times to the present. The WHY of it remains to be our biggest, unanswered question.

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"Who Said It?"
Generate some lively discussion with our fun activity filled with quotes from the book.

Download the PDF

 
 Here's another great way to get some discussion going.

The Invention of Wings is loaded with symbols representing deeply personal and empowering significance to the characters throughout the story. This short presentation by Juliana Bush highlights a few of them such as Sarah's fleur de lis button, needle and thread, Handful's rabbit-head cane, Charlotte's story quilt, and the spirit tree.

 

And of course, Discussion Questions from the Author!

Source: Suemonkkidd.com

1. The title The Invention of Wings was one of the first inspirations that came to Sue Monk Kidd as she began the novel. Why is the title an apt one for Kidd's novel? What are some of the ways that the author uses the imagery and symbolism of birds, wings, and flight?

2. What were the qualities in Handful that you most admired? As you read the novel, could you imagine yourself in her situation? How did Handful continue her relentless pursuit of self and freedom in the face of such a brutal system?

3. After laying aside her aspirations to become a lawyer, Sarah remarks that the Graveyard of Failed Hopes is "an all-female establishment." What makes her say so? What was your experience of reading Kidd's portrayal of women's lives in the nineteenth century?

4. In what ways does Sarah struggle against the dictates of her family, society, and religion? Can you relate to her need to break away from the life she had in order to create a new and unknown life? What sort of risk and courage does this call for?

5. The story of The Invention of Wings includes a number of physical objects that have a special significance for the characters: Sarah's fleur-de-lis button, Charlotte's story quilt, the rabbit-head cane that Handful receives from Goodis, and the spirit tree. Choose one or more of these objects and discuss their significance in the novel.

6. Were you aware of the role that Sarah and Angelina Grimke played in abolition and women's rights? Have women's achievements in history been lost or overlooked? What do you think it takes to be a reformer today?

7. How would you describe Sarah and Angelina's unusual bond? Do you think either one of them could have accomplished what they did on their own? Have you known women who experienced this sort of relationship as sisters?

8. Some of the staunchest enemies of slavery believed the time had not yet come for women's rights and pressured Sarah and Angelina to desist from the cause, fearing it would split the cause of abolition. How do you think the sisters should have responded to their demand? At the end of the novel, Sarah asks, "Was it ever right to sacrifice one's truth for expedience?"

9. What are some of the examples of Handful's wit and sense of irony, and how do they help her cope with the burdens of slavery?

10. Contrast Handful's relationship with her mother with the relationship between Sarah and the elder Mary Grimke. How are the two younger women formed-and malformed-by their mothers?

11. Kidd portrays an array of male characters in the novel: Sarah's father; Sarah's brother, Thomas; Theodore Weld; Denmark Vesey; Goodis Grimke, Israel Morris, Burke Williams. Some of them are men of their time, some are ahead of their time. Which of these male characters did you find most compelling? What positive and negative roles did they play in Sarah and Handful's evolvement?

12. How has your understanding of slavery been changed by reading The Invention of Wings? What did you learn about it that you didn't know before?

13. Sarah believed she could not have a vocation and marriage, both. Do you think she made the right decision in turning down Israel's proposal? How does her situation compare with Angelina's marriage to Theodore? In what ways are women today still asking the question of whether they can have it all?

14. How does the spirit tree function in Handful's life? What do you think of the rituals and meanings surrounding it?

15. Had you heard of the Denmark Vesey slave plot before reading this novel? Were you aware of the extent that slaves resisted? Why do you think the myth of the happy, compliant slave endured? What were some of the more inventive or cunning ways that Charlotte, Handful, and other characters rebelled and subverted the system?

16. The Invention of Wings takes the reader back to the roots of racism in America. How has slavery left its mark on American life? To what extent has the wound been healed? Do you think slavery has been a taboo topic in American life?

17. Are there ways in which Kidd's novel can help us see our own lives differently? How is this story relevant for us today?

Happy Reading!

The Wolf Border

The Wolf Border

The Wolf Border

Sarah Hall

Pages: 432 / Audiobook: 13 hrs 14 mins
Published June 9th 2015 by Harper

The award-winning author of The Electric Michelangelo returns with her first novel in nearly six years, a literary masterpiece about the reintroduction of wild wolves into the United Kingdom.

She hears them howling along the buffer zone, a long harmonic.
One leading, then many.
At night there is no need to imagine, no need to dream.
They reign outside the mind.

Rachel Caine is a zoologist working in Nez Perce, Idaho, as part of a wolf recovery project. She spends her days, and often nights, tracking the every move of a wild wolf pack—their size, their behavior, their howl patterns. It is a fairly solitary existence, but Rachel is content.

When she receives a call from the wealthy and mysterious Earl of Annerdale, who is interested in reintroducing the grey wolf to Northern England, Rachel agrees to a meeting. She is certain she wants no part of this project, but the Earl's estate is close to the village where Rachel grew up, and where her aging mother now lives in a care facility. It has been far too long since Rachel has gone home, and so she returns to face the ghosts of her past.

The Wolf Border is a breathtaking story about the frontier of the human spirit, from one of the most celebrated young writers working today.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★

Meatloaf & Potatoes not Steak and Lobster

And bland meatloaf and potatoes at that. This is not to say that the writing is not beautiful or that the story is not interesting, because it is. But it is in an everyday, matter of fact, plodding, monotone, deliberate way. I can see the brilliance of the symbolism between Racheal and the wolves; the need for freedom rather than captivity. It is clear that Rachael is a lone wolf, dedicated and loyal to her cause, yet the story did not allow me to connect with the characters at all. It was devoid of emotion. Any interaction with others is told briefly or completely skipped. Thomas Pendleton's actions near the end were a complete surprise to me and were the most exciting part of the story. I wanted so badly to love this book but the characters were kept at such a distance that it sadly prevented me from having anything beyond a flatline experience.

What Does It Mean?

The Wolf Border is full of vocabulary-building words. Here's just a few of them and their definitions.

  • encomium - [en-koh-mee-uh m] noun, plural encomiums, encomia; a formal expression of high praise; eulogy.
  • connubial - [kuh-noo-bee-uhl] adjective; of marriage or wedlock; matrimonial; conjugal: connubial love.
  • copse - [kops] noun; a thicket of small trees or bushes; a small wood.
  • tannoynoun; trademark a sound-amplifying apparatus used as a public-address system esp in a large building
  • pedant - [ped-nt] noun
    • 1. A person who makes an excessive or inappropriate display of learning
    • 2. A person who overemphasizes rules or minor details 
    • 3. A person who adheres rigidly to book knowledge without regard tocommon sense.
    • 4. Obsolete. a schoolmaster.

 

 

Have you learned some new words lately?  Share them at Wondrous Words Wednesday (hosted by Bermudaonion.net). “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”

Happy Reading!

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