Library Moments: The Invention of Wings Read-Alikes

the invention of wingsBessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is library moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

Sometimes we have a book that is so popular to our readers and no matter how many copies and formats we purchase we cannot keep up with the demand.

When that happens we endeavour to give you reading suggestions that capitalize on some of the themes you are looking for in the book that is in demand.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is one of these books.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.  Even though it is against the law, Sarah teaches Handful how to read.  Of course knowledge is power.

In the north anti-slavery movements are gaining momentum and threaten the deep seated complacency of those in the south.  Freed blacks and slaves are organizing and political unrest is evident.

Based on the real historical person Sarah Grimke, this novel explores, black history, women’s inequality, and political upheaval.  Erin Kernohan-Berning and Sherrill Sherwood will share books that have similar themes.

all our namesErin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: I chose the theme of political upheaval for my read alike. In All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu, two young men start university in Africa during the lead up to a revolution. Drawn from the safety of academia and into the intensifying clamour of protests and clashes in the street, the friends are drawn into a conflict in which the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred. Soon, they are driven apart – one to stay in Africa, the other seeking refuge in America.

Social worker, Helen, meets Isaac, an exchange student from Africa, while helping him get settled small town Midwest America. They quickly fall in love and engage in a passionate affair, but their relationship is shadowed by Isaac’s dark and mysterious past. Throughout the story Helen questions who Isaac really is, but how can she know when Isaac is asking the same question of himself? As the narration alternates between Isaac’s past and present, All Our Names explores how political upheaval can have very human consequences with respect to love, relationships, and our sense of self.

the last runawaySherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: To find a read-alike, I used the library website. First I searched for The Invention of Wings and clicked on the title when it came up. A new window opened with a summary and reviews. Scrolling down to the bottom of that page, I found and clicked on Novelist Content, a very helpful feature attached to every book in the catalogue. Three titles came up that are read-alikes for The Invention of Wings and I chose The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier. In Ohio in 1850, a modest English Quaker is stranded far from home and life is a trial. Untethered from the moment she leaves England, fleeing personal disappointment, Honor Bright is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in an alien, untamed landscape. Drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, Honor befriends two exceptional people who embody the startling power of defiance. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal cost.

Bessie: If you ever find yourself in the position of waiting for a book, there are many tools at the library that can help you select something else until your book arrives, we love to help people find books, it is after all, what we do! This has been Library Moments, thank you for tuning in here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM, April 6th – 12th, 2014.


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