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Kindred (Black Women Writers Series)
Kindred - Black Women Writers Series
Author: Octavia E. 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. With more than 100,000 copies in print, Kindred is a classic timetravel novel by an acclaimed African-American science fictionwriter.
ISBN-13: 9780807083055
ISBN-10: 0807083054
Publication Date: 9/15/1988
Pages: 264
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.

4.1 stars, based on 95 ratings
Publisher: Beacon Press
Book Type: Paperback
Members Wishing: 37
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

cathyskye avatar reviewed Kindred (Black Women Writers Series) on + 2216 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
Title: Kindred
Author: Octavia E. Butler
ISBN: 0807083054/Beacon Press
Protagonist: Dana, a 26-year-old black woman
Setting: Altadena, California in 1976 and a plantation in Maryland in 1815
Rating: A+

First Lines: I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm.

Dana is a 26-year-old black woman. She and her new husband have just moved from a small apartment in Los Angeles to their new home in Altadena. With no warning other than dizziness and nausea, Dana finds herself in the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned across the years to save him. After the first summons, Dana is drawn back again and again to the plantation to protect Rufus. Each time the stay grows longer and more dangerous, until it is very uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end...long before it has even begun.

I've said before that I love well-written time travel novels, and Kindred certainly exceeded my expectations as far as the time travel and writing. The method of time travel is never explained, and that suits me just fine. I don't need exposition on dilithium crystals, the space-time continuum and quantum physics. As long as the author makes me believe that the person actually is in another time, I'm good to go. Butler's writing is marvelous. The plot flows like white water rapids, both time periods are utterly believable, and the characters are so vivid that I had strong emotional reactions to them.

If you like books that keep you well within your comfort zone, please stay away from Kindred. Butler's novel grabs you by the throat and shakes you over and over again. This is so much more than a mere "time travel" book! Kindred has so much to say about love, about hate, about slavery, about racial dilemmas--both then and now. It is supremely thought-provoking, superbly written, and will doubtless take a place on my Top Ten Reads for 2008. It goes without saying that Kindred will not be the last of Butler's books that I read.
misacamisa avatar reviewed Kindred (Black Women Writers Series) on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very interesting read. The ending seemed abrupt, though, and failed to address issues that had been brought up throughout the story.
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marimij avatar reviewed Kindred (Black Women Writers Series) on + 30 more book reviews
I really enjoyed this book. I love time travel and this was the first one that I have read that was based on slavery. It really makes you think. And the author did a lot of research for this book. It shows! I would love for there to be a sequel, but since it was written in the 70s, I don't think that will happen.
ptlonestar avatar reviewed Kindred (Black Women Writers Series) on
As a true romance junkie, I do not frequently venture outside the genre. In the case of Kindred, I am so glad that I decided to stray from my comfort zone. This book is "beautifully tragic." I was sucked in and read it all in one marathon sitting. As I am a slow reader, it was a terribly long session. But, I could not put it down. There just never seemed a good point to stop reading. Every page left me wanting to know what came next.
I loved that the characters were neither good nor bad. They were a believeable mix of loveable, despicable, sympathetic, and pitiful. Foremost, I identified with Dana. There were so many instances when I felt that she made the right decision (the one I would have made) only to suffer the consequences.
Overall, it was a good blend of time travel and historical fiction.
reviewed Kindred (Black Women Writers Series) on + 9 more book reviews
powerful and raw, this is a sci-fi book that even non-sci-fi lovers, like myself, can enjoy. my only complaint is that i didn't read it sooner!

Edana, or Dana as she is nicknamed, is a modern black woman married to a white man, both struggling writers. on her 26th birthday, Dana is inexplicably transported into the South of the early 1800's where slavery is still practiced in full force. she is "called" there by a red-headed boy named Rufus, who is drowning and she saves his life. ironically, he turns out to be one of her slave-owning ancestors and it becomes clear that it is her duty to protect him. this begins the series of time travels, as Dana is called back each time Rufus is in danger, 6 times over the years to save his nearly pathetic life. each time causes Dana to be stuck in the world that does not welcome her, until her own life is threatened and she is spirited back to her own time. in this way, she learns what it means to be a slave, a woman, a wife. as such, expect a tale with lots of life and lots of near-death, lots of fear and raw emotion.

"I hadn't known quite as well then what there was to fear. I had never seen a captured runaway like Alice. I had never felt the whip across my own back. I had never felt a man's fists."

with startling honesty and depth, Butler grabs you from the beginning and never really lets go, even after the book is over. there is so much strength and conflict that is nearly overwhelming, between characters, between and within the races, and between the times. on top of that, Kindred is well constructed AND well written, bringing together so many powerful themes into a profound tale of fiction: abuse, racial and sexual tensions, literacy, physical and emotional courage, which all serve to show us what it might have been like to be a slave.

"My back began to ache dully, and I felt dully ashamed. Slavery was a long slow process of dulling."

the relationship between Dana and Rufus is one that caused the most conflict for me as a reader. as much as i didn't want to, i found myself in the same position as Dana, having compassion for Rufus. his upbringing and surroundings pushed and pulled him into the expected behaviors of a white slave-holder - sometimes abusive, cruel and unpredictable. and yet, it was so obvious that he wanted to be good. in his own way, he loved his slaves, and this becomes pivotal in the outcome of the book. i kept thinking of the quote "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."

the other struggle that i felt with overwhelming surprise was how easy it had become for Dana to fit in as a slave. she finds herself conflicted with how seemingly "real" the time there feels and she comes to even call it home. during one of her reminisces comparing her two lives, she explains that "(Slavery's) time was a sharper, stronger reality. The work was harder, the smells and tastes were stronger, the danger was greater, the pain was worse." and i felt that, too. it made my life in this century feel less significant, much like i imagine she felt when she returned to the 1970's apartment that she shared with her husband.

Kindred is not a feel good book, nor an easy read, but altogether, this was a stunning work, one that begs to be read and that i would recommend for everyone.


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