Kindred (Bluestreak)

Octavia Butler
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-07-29

What a fabulous book, I don't know why I haven't read it sooner. The writing is stellar. Characters are very well-formed. The book offers a hard, uneasy look at early 19th century south and its practice of slavery. Totally worth the time investment!

Reviewed: 2017-08-29
Book Description Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.
Reviewed: 2016-06-24
I don't like time paradoxes. They inevitably confuse me and often annoy me, because of the whole massive plot hole thing. That's one of the handful of reasons I never got around to reading this book despite it having pretty rave reviews from just about everyone I know of who's read it. But for some reason, even though the fantastical time travel and paradox is central to the story, and there is the plot hole to contend with, it never felt like one of those books that annoy me with its implausibility. I was so caught up in Dana's story that the logistics just automatically moved to the back-burner.

That's not to say that the details weren't important. It's just that the little details, the ones that really bring the story to life, trumped the detail of how Dana ended up in the situation to begin with.

This story is infinitely readable. I would sit down to read a bit, and then the next time I'd look up, I'd have read a huge chunk of the book. I read this book standing in line at the grocery store. I read this book while having my car serviced. I read this book during any free minutes of time that I had. I read the last 49% of the book in one sitting, on my phone, because I didn't even think to interrupt the reading to even switch devices. And despite the abysmal formatting of the ebook that I had, I could hardly put it down. I had to know what would happen.

And in a way, this book was as predictable as I would have expected, at least in the main story arc, but, I don't really mean that as a criticism. We all know how slavery was. The things she experienced in this book should not be surprising to anyone. But still I had to know what would happen to Dana, and to her husband. I couldn't look away, and didn't want to. This book is still on my mind... I feel like I should be picking it up to see what happens next.

Kindred contained both one of the most simply beautiful things I've seen, and one of the most atrociously brutal and horrific, and yet this didn't make me cry. It just was - it didn't manipulate or seek to make me feel a certain way. There was just a story to tell and it was told. I really appreciated that.

I won't say what the most brutal thing was, but I will mention what I thought was the most beautiful. It was a single act, toward the very beginning of the story. After Dana is called to the past for the first time, she comes back soaking wet, disoriented and terrified, and passes out. Her husband has no idea what's happened or where she went after she just vanished before his eyes, but this man didn't freak out or start badgering her for info - he just put together a bag of things that he thought she might need, including a weapon, and tied it to her, so that if she was called away again while she was unconscious, she'd have something to help her while she was wherever she was.

It was just such an unexpected and sweet thing to do. He didn't know what was going on, or when it might happen again, so he just accepted the unreal and tried to help. I loved him for that.

Another thing that I loved about this book was the perspective. I've read a lot of books about slavery, and even those told from the slaves' perspective shows things from the perspective of someone either stolen into that life, or raised to it. Seeing the life from a modern (1976 modern, anyway) was interesting and so enlightening. We think about our history of slavery in historical terms, as a distant thing that is thankfully something that we've moved past - but think about it terms of how you'd have to if you were suddenly plopped without warning into that life. How would you react? How would you survive? Would you be able to put aside your identity as a free person in order to live in a society that sees you as property? It's an intriguing question for me, and it was so easy to put myself in Dana's shoes and feel and understand her.

I also appreciated the fact that Butler didn't pull punches with Rufus, making him too progressive under Dana's modern influence. I think she managed just the right balance with him, and he was both detestable (to my modern sensibilities) and understandable for the standards of his own time. That's fine balance to achieve and I think that she did it well.

There's a lot more that I would like to say about this book, but most of it comes down to the fantastical believability of the time travel aspect, and how easily all of the characters accepted it, which was hard for me to accept. That was the one thing that would take me out of the moment every once in a while, and for that, I'm dropping a star, but for every other aspect of this book, it's a solid 5 star read, and definitely one that I would like to own.
Couldn't put it down this weekend. Very good read - some painful stuff to endure, but good characters and plot pacing.
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