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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

BOOK #7 Kindred by Octavia Butler: 52 Books in 52 Weeks. 2011 Book Reviews


Kindred is a science fiction novel written by Octavia E. Butler.  The book begins with Dana, a modern black woman living in Los Angeles in 1976 who is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her husband when she is abruptly taken from her home and transported to the antebellum South in Maryland.  There she meets Rufus, the son a plantation owner, who is drowning.  Dana realizes that Rufus is her great grandfather and if she doesn't save him, her lineage will cease to exist.  Dana saves him and is returned back to her present time.  She is summoned back several times to rescue Rufus, each stay in the antebellum South gets longer is filled with more adversity and hardship as Rufus get older.  Dana is confronted with saving Rufus, who at first she believes she can keep from becoming a hardened slave master like his father.  But with every stay, Dana learns that things can always be worse on a plantation. 

Rufus is a complex, multi-dimensional character.  At times as a reader, I couldn't understand why Dana cared and trusted him as much as she did.  However, Dana understood that given the opportunity she had to at least try to mold Rufus into the decent man she thought he could be.  By the end of the first chapter, you'll be wondering if Dana can survive the antebellum South alive and make it home or will she be forever trapped in an atmosphere that seems impossible to endure?

There are so many complexities to this story; for instance Dana's husband, Kevin.  A white man from modern society trying to assimilate in the era of slavery is jarring. Even when Kevin is taken back with Dana to the antebellum South, he still does not experience the injustice of slavery with the same depth as Dana does.  The stain of injustice is all around him but one can only wonder if Kevin is intentionally blocking it out because it is simply easier than feeling helpless or perhaps because he cannot feel the effects of slavery in a tangible, personal context and he may be incapable of fully comprehending the psychological, physical and emotional damage of it all.

Kindred is a poignant look into the institution of slavery and the affect it has on modern day society.  Ms. Butler takes the reader on a raw journey, covering such topics as literacy, influence of power, gender equality, inter-racial relationships, obligation, obsession, tolerance, racism, and most importantly, love.  The author shows the reader that all love isn't healthy; we can love to our own detriment at times.  By the end of the story, it is clear that Dana's past will always be a part of her future.  

I highly recommend this book.  I would not categorize this book as science fiction, although that is the genre for which Ms. Butler is known. However, Ms. Butler stated, "Kindred is not science fiction.  You'll notice there is no science in it. It's kind of a grim fantasy".  I believe this book could easily be categorized as historical fiction.  Ms. Butler is an outstanding writer, who no doubt, did her research.  Overall, this is a magnificent book written by an exceptional writer.  Ultimately, no niche is needed to categorize her work; it stands effortlessly on its own.

***** 5 STAR

Great Quotes/ Excerpts from Kindred.

“I was beginning to realize that he loved the woman - to her misfortune. There was no shame in raping a black woman, but there could be shame in loving one.”

“Slavery is a long slow process of dulling.”


“He had already found the way to control me - by threatening others.”

“I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery."





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I am a writer, filmmaker, wife and a mom of five beautiful, intelligent, quirky kids. This blog is for writers, aspiring writers, filmmakers and movie lovers. Bringing you my favorite books, films and photos, as well as giveaways and updates on my journey. I'm currently in the process of producing my first short film from my collection of short stories titled, If I Had My Way. The first story to be filmed will be Tandarin Drive. My award winning book, If I Had My Way, is available now. You can purchase a copy at Amazon.com and BN.com. You may contact me via email at: blog@lenasledge.com

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