I am so glad that Kidd intertwined the story of Handful, a slave in their home. Through her voice we got to see and hear and try to feel even a pinch of what life was like for slaves during this time. So often we hear of stories where white people help black people. Yes this is true. Whites have been the ones with the power. We know this. But I want to hear about their stories. The slaves. What they did to rebel, survive, live, etc and to save themselves. I love that Kidd thought about this and put stories like these into her narrative.
It was a bit disjointed. She jumped a lot from one point in history to another but I feel that was the best way to do a historical fiction biography like this. So even though it felt a bit uneven, I see why it was necessary.
Overall, it was a poignant, powerful, and inspiring book.
I loved these quotes:
"First time I saw it, my feet hopped in place and I lifted my hand over my head and danced. That's when I got true religion. I didn't know to call it religion back then, didn't know Amen from what-when, I just knew something came into me that made me feel the water belonged to me."
"Mauma didn't fall again, though, and I reckoned Gad had lent me an ear, but maybe that ear wasn't white, maybe the world had a colored God, too, or else it was mauma who kept her own self standing, who answered my prayer with the strength of her limbs and the grip of her heart."
"People say love gets fouled by a difference big as ours. I didn't know for sure whether Miss Sarah's feelings came from love or guilt. I didn't know whether mine came from love or a need to be safe. She loved me and pitied me. And I loved her and used her. It never was a simple thing. That day, our hearts were pure as they ever would get."
"There's no pain on earth that doesn't crave a benevolent witness."
"I saw then what I hadn't seen before, that I was very good at despising slavery in the abstract, in the removed and anonymous masses, but in the concrete, intimate flesh of the girl beside me, I'd lost the ability to be repulsed by it. I'd grown comfortable with the particulars of evil. There's a frightful muteness that dwells at the center of all unspeakable things, and I had found my way into it."
"History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another's pain in the heart our own."