What would you do if you were transported back to the 1800’s in the American South and were seen as a slave? Would you be able to survive? Would you try to escape? These are the questions raised in the novel “Kindred” written by Octavia E. Butler. I picked up this book on a whim after seeing it in the science fiction section. It stuck out because there are not a lot of books in that section with a black woman on the cover. I decided to get it and it is now one of my favorite books.
Published in 1979, the book follows Dana Franklin and her husband Kevin, living in 1976. The book opens where they are moving in to a new apartment and all of a sudden Dana feels dizzy, next thing she knows she’s in a field and a boy is drowning in the lake nearby. She saves him and realizes that she has been transported back to the 1800’s and is seen as a slave. Through out the reat of the novel, Dana moves in time and must deal with having to act as a slave woman. She endures the terrible treatment slaves did, being whipped, humiliated, beaten and treated as less than human. At first she wonders how slaves could put up with it and soon finds herself accepting it and not questioning her status. It has a unforgettable ending and I finished it looking at the world in a different way. The book touches on human relationships, the culture of slavery and relations between blacks and whites during that time.
I loved this book because I am very interested in books on slavery. After reading ‘Roots’ a few summers ago, I’m always looking for more slavery fiction. However, this book was different because it was a twentieth century woman dealing with slavery and its hardships. It made me wonder if I would be able to survive like my ancestors did and I think the answer to that is no. I’m definitely not strong enough.
If you’re interested in fiction about slavery, or just a good read I recommend Kindred. It takes a different look at slavery and for me it made me proud to be a descendant of slaves. I come from strong people so I have to be strong in my own life because I am very fortunate to have the freedoms I have today. We all are.