audiobook: 11 hours
*** About the Book ***
It is 1976 and Dana and Kevin are married writers who have enjoyed some moderate success, enabling them to purchase their first home. While they are still moving in, Dana gets dizzy and feels like she is passing out. Suddenly she finds herself outside near a river where a young boy is drowning. She pulls him from the water, saves his life, then find herself looking down a shotgun; the boy's father is ready to shoot her, thinking she is trying to kill his son. Then POOF!, she's back in her new living room. Kevin has no idea why his wife disappeared, he's simply happy she's back. But it happens again, and then again and again, over the next few days, and each time Dana is gone longer. She soon realizes that she is not simply moving through space, she is moving through time as well. Somehow that young boy she saved, Rufus, calls her back through time whenever he is in a life-threatening situation and Dana arrives just in time to save his life. The problem? Rufus is a young plantation owner living in the early 1800s and Dana is an African American woman. AND Rufus is Dana's ancestor.
*** Why I Read It ***
I first heard of Octavia Butler through this post at Tor.com. I immediately added her Pattern series to my TBR list. Then I read this Tor.com post about her time travel/slavery novel, KINDRED, and that book went onto my TBR list as well. When it was time to look for a new audio book at the library I came across this one and checked it out immediately.
Plus, since there is time travel (albeit unexplained time travel), this counts toward the Mind Voyages Challenge.
*** My Thoughts ***
Oh Octavia Butler! WHY have I not read you before?! You are wonderful, simply wonderful!
(Do you get the idea that I liked this book, maybe just a little?)
I don't usually read books set in the American South during any time period and I can't recall the last pre-Civil War book I read (other than GONE WITH THE WIND, and we all know how very realistic that book is ... *sarcasm*) so this was definitely a break from my usual reading habits. I listened to this while driving and let me tell you, I did NOT want to get out of the car at all.
Let me explain what is so wonderful about this book ...
As a white female living in a relatively non-racist community there are thing that I will simply never understand about racism, things that I will never personally experience. Many times authors write about this topic in a way that doesn't help me to understand racism any better than I already do. Butler's writing was different. The fact that her main character is coming into her slave-life from a safe, comfortable, and generally non-racist home/work life allowed Butler to show the readers the reality of slavery through modern eyes. Dana was shocked and horrified over the same things that I would be shocked and horrified over; our reactions mirrored each other in a way that helped me understand the horrors of slavery as I never have before.
Butler didn't take the easy way out as I thought she might. I expected Butler to protect her main character, give her a way to keep from getting hurt, give her someone to watch over her, give her something. This didn't happen, and every time it didn't happen I was forced to acknowledge the realities of life as a slave - sometimes there simply are no choices or ways to get away.
One other thing that made the book hit home for me is that is takes place in Maryland. The main setting is a town called Easton which is about an hour from my house. I have friends who live there. Other parts of the story take place in Baltimore, which is just 20 minutes away. Stories like this (minus the time travel, of course) took place practically in my back yard.
This is an amazing book, one that I've been recommending to people since I got through the first few chapters. I would have even let Kiddo listen to it with me (it would be an excellent way to get him to understand slavery) except for the repeated use of the "n" word; it makes sense in the context of the book, but I don't want that word in Kiddo's vocabulary at all just yet.
*** About the Audiobook ***
The audiobook was narrated by Kim Stuanton and she did an excellent job. She had different accents and voices for the various characters in the book which made it easy to keep track of who was talking. She also conveyed the emotions of the characters very clearly, something not all narrators can do.
*** Your Thoughts ***
This book needs to be more widely read! The only other review I could find was at Linus's Blanket and she loved it as well.
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? If not, have I convinced you to give it a try?