Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I really enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd so when I heard that the author has another book, I definitely had to get it. I will admit though; I had no other prior information about the book apart from the author’s name.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is about slavery. It’s not just about physical slavery but also mental slavery. The story is about Sarah Grimke and Handful (Hettie),two women from very separate worlds whose lives collide at some point . Sarah was a white woman living in the south. She was born into affluence and had everything  (or so it seemed at first). On the other hand, Handful is a slave. She was given to Sarah as a birthday present. Handful came from a generation of slaves, as a matter of fact; her own mother Charlotte was also a slave for the Grimke’s family.

tumblr_mz8ucloKpx1qgyx22o5_500Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years A Slave

This was the second book that I  read about slavery.The first one was Beloved by Toni Morrison. I watched 12 years a Slave, of course because it featured the amazing Kenyan actress, Lupita Nyongo. I also watched The Butler which had aspects of slavery but I hadn’t yet come across anything like The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Unlike Beloved, this book covers both the perspectives of the slaves and the slave masters.

15e2b381c43c57adb594d6db2c208a53e1fe6798_400x300The details about slavery were shocking. There were incidents of endless whippings and torture. It is ridiculous to think of a time when humans could own other humans. The slaves lived in misery. They had no freedom at all such that even leaving the gate required a written permission slip. Another surprising aspect was that slaves had to take up the family names of their owners. For instance; Charlotte and Handful (Hetty) were both Grimkes.


“My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it’s the other way round.”
Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings

Despite the harrowing narration about slavery, this book also told of unlikely friendships. The mistress and slave formed a unique bond and a friendship that defied all odds. I really enjoyed reading about Sarah and Handful and their friendship. I also liked the fact that Sue Monk Kidd portrayed the friendship with its imperfections. I liked the relationship between Charlotte and her daughter, Handful. It was a beautiful relationship full of hope despite their life in imprisonment. The relationships between Nina and Sarah and Sky and Handful were also quite beautiful.




The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd had an easy flow. I found myself turning the pages lost in the narration and the struggles of the characters. Slavery is ugly and so the narration was mostly heart wrenching and shocking too. However, the strength of the female characters; Nina, Sarah, Handful was very inspiring. These women were fighters and I enjoyed reading about their fight to make a change in the world. I love books that feature strong women protagonists and this one definitely did not disappoint me.

I loved this book and as I said, I didn’t have any information about it before turning the first page. However, I was pleasantly surprised to later find out that The Invention of Wings was actually inspired by true events. The main protagonist, Sarah Grimke was an abolitionist who not only fought against slavery but also fought for the equal rights of women. This made the book even more amazing.


The real Sarah and Angeline Grimke. The book was based on their life story.