The past few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time on airplanes, which means I’ve gotten to read more books than usual. This post includes book reviews for The Invention of Wings, The Bean Tree and The Giver.
My favorite book since my last book review post is The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.
Here is an excerpt from the Amazon synopsis:
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.
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.
It reminded me a lot of The Help by Kathryn Stockett, but seemed more gritty and disturbing (in an I-need-to-know-this sort of way).
The links in this post go to the “normal” version of the book on Amazon, but apparently there is a version with “Oprah’s notes” that people found to be very annoying! If you buy this book on-line, be careful that you get the version you want! (And use my Amazon affiliate links if you are so inclined.)
A very close second is The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.
I didn’t realize that this is actually her first novel, since my first exposure to her was with The Poisonwood Bible, which I also loved.
The Amazon synopsis for The Bean Trees summarizes it this way:
The Bean Trees … is the charming, engrossing tale of rural Kentucky native Taylor Greer, who only wants to get away from her roots and avoid getting pregnant. She succeeds, but inherits a 3-year-old native-American little girl named Turtle along the way, and together, from Oklahoma to Tucson, Arizona, half-Cherokee Taylor and her charge search for a new life in the West.
It’s a great story with compelling characters and interesting sub-plots that will keep you turning the page. (Right now the Kindle edition is specially priced on Amazon for only $1.99, so you might as well check it out!)
Another book I read and enjoyed is The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Some friends have told me that they read this in school, but they must be younger than I am! (It was a 1994 Newbery Medal winner.)
The Amazon summary of The Giver is pretty skimpy:
The story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind his fragile community.
If I had to classify it more, I would put it in the distopian genre with The Hunger Games, but it seems to raise deeper questions (thus its Newberry Medal!). It is a quick read, but you might want to read it slowly to let it sink in. There are three related books that I haven’t read yet–Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.
What do you think about e-book features that let you see passages that other readers have highlighted?
Have you read any good books lately?