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The Invention of Wings

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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  258,935 ratings  ·  22,877 reviews
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 enclos
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Viking
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Dana Per the author's notes:
The original idea of the "wings" came from black folklore where people in Africa were thought to fly and then lost their wings …more
Per the author's notes:
The original idea of the "wings" came from black folklore where people in Africa were thought to fly and then lost their wings when captured as slaves.

Wings mean freedom. The Invention of...means how these characters came to find their personal freedom through abolition and women's rights.

(less)
Dee Mermaid Chair is more mystical. The Invention of Wings is more realistic, based on historical facts. I liked the the Invention of Wings much better.

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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  258,935 ratings  ·  22,877 reviews


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Lori
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A must read! I found this to be one of the most powerful novels I've read... I'm from South Carolina and I love Charleston but not always her history. Im very sad that the courageousness of the Grimke Sisters is not more well known here. Wonderful writting... the atrocities of slavery and its affects are so well depicted in the voices of Sarah and Hettie. Thank you Sue for sharing this amazing story. 5 HUGE stars!
Angela M
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
We think that we know something about the atrocities of slavery because we learned about it in American history class, or we saw glimpses of it in a movie or a book. But it isn't until we confront a depiction of it that seems so real and horrible, that we realize how very little we really know of the injustice of slavery. Sue Monk Kidd has provided that depiction in this amazing novel.

In blending fact and fiction, she tells the story of Sarah and Angelina Grimke, two sisters from Charleston, S
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Sally
Jan 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
I don't know how the book I read can be the same that has received 4 and 5 stars. I found the book to be mediocre at best. With very little character development the book is shallow. I felt nothing for anyone with the possible exception of Handful. Even Charleston, a character herself, especially in the slave trade, was poorly developed. This is a missed opportunity as the history coupled with the fictionalized account could have been very good. I was sadly disappointed.
Donna
Audiobooks have been my preferred reading format for about 5 years now, and I probably listen to at least 30 audiobooks a year, but it is rare that I come across an audio so beautifully narrated and a story so deeply stirring that it leaves me feeling like anything I can say about it will be inadequate.

The Invention of Wings was a powerful story of a turbulent time in history and that was conveyed in the brilliant narration by Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye. The story alternates points of view f
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Debra
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Such an amazing book. I loved every page of it! This book was amazing. I love books that make one think and feel and this book did both. Parts were inspiring, parts were devastating, disturbing, etc. This is the story of mainly 2 women but also more women of note are also in this book as minor characters. The novel really begins when an 11 year old daughter of a plantation owner is given a slave for her 11th birthday. Well, actually the novel begins when Sarah experiences speaking difficulties a ...more
Patrice Hoffman
Sue Monk Kidd is the bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees so it's no surprise that she's back on the scene with an Oprah approved title. The Invention of Wings, similar to it's Bees, takes place in the south and follows the lives of two women. Where the two novels differ is that The Invention of Wings takes place during a time in American history when the south wanted nothing more than to preserve its lot in the slave trade.

Sarah Grimke and Hetty(Handful) alternate the narration of thi
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Britany
I was not expecting this book to grab my heartstrings and pull the way that it did. It was unexpected, fresh, and interesting. I literally read this book in two sittings, and wasn't ready for it to end when it did. In fact, I actually thought I had more to read, but quickly found out that the author's note was stuck in there!!

Sue Monk Kidd outdid herself with the amount of research she had to do to keep this novel accurate, and taking liberties with telling the story of Hetty Handful and Sarah G
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
$1.99 Kindle sale, Sept. 6, 2018. A strong 4 stars. This is a semi-factual novelization of the life of Sarah Grimke, an actual abolitionist and women's rights advocate born in Charleston, S.C. in the early 1800s. It's also a tales of slavery, as the novel alternates each chapter between the voices of Sarah and her slave Hetty, or Handful (who was very loosely based on an actual person).

description
Angelina and Sarah Grimke, southern ladies, sisters and early abolitionists.

Sarah, an intelligent, introspecti
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B the BookAddict
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a book whose topic is one which makes me feel supremely uncomfortable; slavery. Usually, I avoid books like this, they make me feel wretched and sad; tethered as I am here in 2014 and utterly powerless to change history. Before this novel, I knew nothing of Sarah Grimke and her sister Nina and I'm grateful to Sue Monk Kidd for enlightening me.

Sarah Grimke was the eighth child of fourteen children, Nina the twelfth, their father was a plantation owner but the family lived in Charleston an
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Diane S ☔
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Where to start in trying to explain all the amazing things this novel contained. It is powerful, intense, profound and amazing in every way. The real life

Gremke sisters, born into a family of wealth, on a plantation that of course had slaves, in Charleston in the middle of the 19th century, but before the Civil War. This is their story and the story of others who also fought for the abolishment of slavery. It is also the story of Handful, a slave and her mother on the Gremke plantation.



Some was
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Mandy
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unforgettable. This book was completely and utterly dynamic. From the first word to the last I was enthralled with Sarah and Handful. From the beginning they had a bond that couldn't be bought or broken. Sarah promised Handful's mama she would free her and she did in so many ways. What a beautiful book, it has definitely opened up new doors for me in what I am choosing to read. The Invention of Wings was so powerful that it even made me rethink my opinions on slavery and how awful and degrading ...more
Dem
Dec 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd was a really interesting and well researched novel about the lives of the Grimke Sisters.
Firstly I have to applaud the author for including a detailed Author's Note at the end of this beautiful novel and updating the readers on what is in fact fiction and what events really happened in the lives of the Grimke Sisters. I feel this is so important in historical fiction which is inspired by real events.

I have read a good few books dealing wit
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Dolors
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of a good story well told
Recommended to Dolors by: Connie G
Shelves: read-in-2018

The invention of wings is a fictional recreation of the life of Sarah Grimké, one of the first American feminists and abolitionist who spent her prime years touring the United States giving speeches in favor of equality in gender and race.
Born into an aristocratic family of the South and raised up in the culture of pro-slavery, she became an unusual woman who defied not only his family but also public opinion, societal norms and general belief and faced ostracism and permanent banishment because
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Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This novel takes place in the early 1800's and the story starts in Charleston. The Grimke's were a wealthy family, the father was a judge and very highly regarded. One of the sisters, Sara, never really feels as though she fits in the household.

At the age of 11, she is given a girl slave, 10 years old, named Hetty, given to her as a birthday present! She intuitively knows that slavery is wrong and tried numerous times to "return" her "gift".

In their remarkable journey over the next 35 years, bo
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PorshaJo
A new trend over the years is to take a small piece of history and create a story around it. I enjoy this concept, especially when it is done well. This time, was no exception. I have wanted to read this for years and always pushed it to the bottom of the pile. I finally decided to pick this up just for the audio. One of the narrators is one that I really enjoy and when I saw she was narrating this one, I moved it to the top of my list.

The story is told from two points of view, alternating betwe
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Jenny
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this book for book club a couple of years ago but didn’t realize the impact this book had on me until I started recommending it recently as a book that gives readers a glimpse into two very different childhoods. One child is a slave and one child is a child of privilege. I realize that as I get older how many people I talk to don’t know US history. More importantly, people don’t have any comprehension of slavery or the impact that it had. I think this book is excellent in the way you see ...more
PattyMacDotComma
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5★
“Their laughter would ring out abruptly, a sound Mother welcomed. ‘Our slaves are happy,’ she would boast. It never occurred to her their gaiety wasn’t contentment, but survival.”


Based on the true story of two sisters who grew up to become prominent abolitionists in the American South in the early 1800s. Sarah, the elder of the two, narrates some chapters while Handful, the slave who was given to her on her 11th birthday, narrates the others. I preferred the fictional Handful’s story to the
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Damaskcat
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
I had heard so many good things about Sue Monk Kidd that I thought I’d give her latest novel a try. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with it. Basically it is a fairly run of the mill story about two girls of a similar age in the nineteenth century who grow up in different social settings – one a slave and one her owner.

Yes the story is interesting and the contrasts it paints between the different social strata of society in nineteenth century Charleston is well done. However I didn’t t
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Cherie
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing! This is the best book I have read in a long time, certainly the best I have read this year. This is moving to my "Favorites" shelf. I can't recommend highly enough, a "Must-Read" for all females.
Margitte
What a great read. Once again, I will skip a long review and just mention that it was a well-researched, creative novel based on the true life story of two sisters who became the first outspoken anti-slavery advocates from Georgia and paid a hefty price for it. In the end they succeeded and changed the world for women in America as well in the early 1800s. All they asked was that men should step off their necks. A great expression to remember. But it needs to be said that it was men who inspired ...more
Elyse  Walters
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is as good as people say it is! Page-turning engrossing! Vibrantly imagined! Pulsing with life...(devastating torture, tender humanity, and an extraordinary achievement in storytelling)

I'm giving it 5 Stars ---(4.5 stars for sure)!!!!!

Given there must be at least 5,000 reviews of this book already ---I'm going to pick out a quote (page 115), in which I felt this story took a major turn. A 'powerful' turn':

"She had the look of someone who'd declared herself, and seeing it, my indignati
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Cher
Jan 07, 2014 rated it liked it
2.5 stars - It was alright, an average book.

While being well written and interesting enough to keep me engaged, this book was ultimately a let down and did not even come close to meeting the expectations that have been set by the hype surrounding it.

I love historical fiction that is based on actual figures/events and was excited to read about the Grimke sisters, the first female abolition agents and among the earliest major American feminist thinkers. Unfortunately, the focus on their actions to
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Katelyn
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First off, before I get into the actual review, I think it's necessary to explain my history with the author, Sue Monk Kidd. When I was fourteen, I received a book recommendation from one of my mom's friends, which ended up being The Secret Life of Bees. I was just at that age where books didn't fascinate me as much as when I was a little kid, and my book selection was getting increasingly pickier. As I was reading the book coming home from a trip to Mexico, I felt an overwhelming connection to ...more
Diane Chamberlain
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book in recent months.
Lazaros
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, every one
“She said it again, "I'm tired."
She wanted me to tell her it was all right, to get her spirit and go on, but I couldn't say it. I told her, "Course you're tired. You worked hard your whole life. That's all you did was work."
"Don't you remember me for that. Don't you remember I'm a slave and work hard. When you think of me, you say, she never belong to those people. She never belong to nobody but herself."
She closed her eyes. "You remember that."
"I will, mauma.”


When Sarah Grimké turned 11
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Susan
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This powerful novel begins in 1803 and follows the life of two girls into womanhood; neither of whom follow the path proscribed for them by convention and the world they are born into. Sarah Grimke is the daughter of a wealthy and influential family. Her father is a judge on South Carolina’s highest court, her snobbish, overbearing and constantly pregnant mother, Mary, descended from the first families of Charleston. On her eleventh birthday, Sarah is presented with Handful, the slave daughter o ...more
Sarah
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
At the age of 11, I owned a slave I couldn't free.


This is a book primarily about two girls, both of who are trapped within lives that they cannot change, but who ultimately grow into extraordinary and inspirational women.

The novel begins in 1803. Sarah Grimke is the daughter of Judge Grimke, and a middle child in a large family who form part of the aristocratic class of Charleston, South Carolina. The Grimkes, like all other rich white families in the town, rely on slaves to sustain their l
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Chrissie
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it
I KNOW my emotional response to this book. I liked it, so three stars it has to get. But why? What is it that has prevented me from giving it more?

Please read the above book summary. I am not going to repeat all of that. I assume you know that this book is based on the two real-life Grimke sisters that fought for the Abolitionist and Women's Rights movement in the 1830s and 1840s.

The book is well researched. It has an excellent epilogue that in detail specifies what is and is not fictional. Man
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Brenda
Firstly let me apologise for the length of this review!

It was the 1780s in Charleston, South Carolina when the day of Sarah Grimke’s eleventh birthday was to become the day of change in young Sarah’s life, though she was unaware of it at the time. For her birthday her parents gifted her with ten year old Hetty (Handful) to be her waiting maid. Sarah was horrified; she tried to give her back – she didn’t need a maid she said. But it was to be. And so a strange and unique relationship formed betwe
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Dale Harcombe
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful novel that starts in 1803 and goes through to 1838. It starts with two girls whose lives become intertwined. One is Hetty Handful Grimke, a slave, and the other 11 year old Sarah Grimke, a middle daughter of her well to do parents. On her birthday Sarah is presented with a gift by her mother. The gift is Handful, to be her own maid and slave. Sarah is appalled and seeks to rectify matters by refusing to accept this gift. But it seem there is just no persuading her mother or father tha ...more
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SUE MONK KIDD was raised in the small town of Sylvester, Georgia. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 1970 and later took creative writing courses at Emory University, as well as studying at Sewanee, Bread Loaf, and other writers’ conferences. In her forties, Kidd turned her attention to writing fiction, winning the South Carolina Fellowship in Literature and the 1996 Poets & Writers
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Articles featuring this book

A young girl in 19th-century Charleston is given a slave for her 11th birthday in The Invention of Wings, a new historical novel from the author of...
57 likes · 23 comments
“To remain silent in the face of evil is itself a form of evil.” 144 likes
“If you must err, do so on the side of audacity.” 108 likes
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