Kindred is not an easy read. I read it in a day, but not because I was thrilled with the story- I was gripped by it in a relatively unpleasant fashion. Imagine being an African American woman who somehow time travels back to the era of slavery in the American South. It doesn't sound like a pleasant adventure, does it? I was possessed by the need to find out if Dana made it out okay, and what exactly was going on with her in the first place.
The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.'
Kindred has all the content you'd expect from the time that it's set in- so if you can't handle blood and inhumane abuses, you may not want to read this one. At times, I was reading with my hand over my face because I wanted Dana to pull through, but also somehow manifest superpowers. Dana has the strength most women would envy, but the events that befall her in this book aren't enviable. This book provides a haunting glimpse of the past that is difficult to swallow.
Dana's husband, Kevin is white, and he plays a part in this book as well. Once they figure out some of what is happening, they attempt to learn more of the history of the time in order to help protect Dana. All the while, it seems almost futile to- as a black woman, Dana has virtually no rights in the South at that time. Beyond that, Rufus, the person Dana rescues, seems almost as bound to her as she as to him.
Kindred is the sort of book that if it were a nightmare, you'd wake up from it with cold sweat dripping from your every pore. It isn't a happy book, but it is an important one. I recommend this to those who like to read about the past from a less sterile perspective.
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for a difficult read that was even more difficult to put down.
Age Advisory: Ages 18+ for violence, sexual assault, and slavery.
Page Count: 287 pages