Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book #26: The Invention of Wings

When I was a kid, I may have swallowed a bit too much water spending summers swimming in Walden Pond. It may be why I savor a bit of thirst quenching civil disobedience.

Oh, say, like Bree Newsome scaling the flagpole on the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse this week and pulling off the Confederate flag. She knew she'd be arrested. She knew the flag would go back up. But she sure made a statement people could hear far and wide. Gutsy and brilliant.

The Invention of Wings is set in Charleston and is based on the lives of real life abolitionist and suffragette sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimké, and Handful, a slave who was gifted to Sarah on Sarah's 11th birthday.

The book is written through the eyes of Sarah and Handful, who both had aspirations that were not suitable for their time. But they were determined to pursue them--even when they were terrified, even when the path was complicated and unclear, even when people pushed back on them hard and relentlessly, and even when they got in their own or each others' way.

"I felt alone in the world with my alien ideas," Sarah said, early on in the story. I knew exactly what she meant because I have, often in stunned wonder, felt that, too.

Am I really that alone?

Not all of us overcome fear. Not all of us find our voice. Not all of us teach our slave how to read in defiance of the law, in defiance of our parents, in defiance of our preachers. Not all of us follow our ambitions. Not all of us break free from our constraints.

Not all of us climb the flagpole.

But more than just one of us think about it.


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