Friday, May 22, 2009

Book Club: Kindred

Our May Book was Kindred by Octavia E Butler.

The book itself is about slavery in Maryland in the 1800s.
But here's the twist: the book is Science Fiction. Unexpected, right?! I know! That's what I thought.

The story starts with Dana (an African American woman) and her husband Kevin (a white man) in 1976. They are in the process of unpacking when Dana gets dizzy and is pulled into Maryland circa the 1800s.

She rescues a drowning boy from the river, Rufus, who turns out to be her great-great-great.... grandfather. After the rescue Rufus' dad puts a gun to Dana's head, Dana gets scared and dizzy and *voila* she's back in her 1976 living room. Dana is wet and muddy which is Kevin's indicator that she really did disappear and go to 1800-Maryland.

Throughout the book she is pulled several times to rescue Rufus and each time, months or years have passed for him, while in Dana’s own time only hours or days have passed. On one of her trips, Kevin grabs hold of Dana as she begins to feel dizzy and is transported along with her to the 1800s. Ultimately he ends up trapped in that era for several years, which takes a significant toll on him.

Once you are past that randomness of time travel, the story itself is really good. It provided a very different perspective of slavery - not quite from the slave view nor the slave owners. It was more of a birds-eye view where the key players getting sucked into that time frame. In all, it was a very interesting, worthwhile, quick read.

*At book club we wondered what became of Dana and Kevin's relationship after this ordeal. It seemed strained, so I would be interested to see how things turned out for them.

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