Book Review: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
In an interview Butler stated the meaning of the amputation scene: “I couldn’t really let her come all the way back. I couldn’t let her return to what she was, I couldn’t let her come back whole and that, I think, really symbolizes her not coming back whole. Antebellum slavery didn’t leave people quite whole.”
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Kim Staunton and it was everything I expected from a black literary classic. Kindred tells the story of Dana, a 26 year old Black woman in 1976 who is transported to the 1800's to save the life of her white ancestor Rufus Weylin. The son of salve owner Tom Weylin. Her task, as presumed from the beginning is to save his life at different periods so that her great great grandmother Haygar could be born. So Dana goes back & forth between past and present as she struggles to adapt as a slave. The thing i loved most about this story, is that it wasn't just about time traveling into slavery. It was about obsession, abuse, and control in toxic relationships. Romantic and non-romantic. Many of the issues Dana and Alice faced with Rufus are prevalent even today. Privileged, entitled, violent white boys with mommy AND daddy issues who hurt and manipulate those around them until they get what they want. Everyone else is to blame for his issues and he takes no responsibility. I found myself feeling conflicted with sympathizing with Rufus. I hated him, although at times I didn't want to. My hatred of his character was more disappointment than anything. I wanted him to be better. To do better, but that was naive of me. He ended up being just like his father, if not worse. Another interesting aspect of this story was Dana's interracial marriage. Her husband Kevin ended up in the past with her at one point, which causes some hardship for them. There were parts of this story that were hard to sit through. I can't imagine the trauma of Dana or Kevin's experiences. Although by the end, I was proud of her for facing the truth of why she kept getting sent back and doing what needed to be done. I loved this book so much, and I wish i had read it sooner. Historical fiction holds a special place in my heart, as a writer and a reader. If you haven't read this book yet, please do so! Octavia's writing is one for the history books!