The Invention of Wings [Book Review]

November 9, 2018

Friday Favorite:
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Today, in lieu of reviewing a new release, I  am choosing to revisit an old favorite which I read years before starting this blog. (thanks for the inspiration Sandy’s Book a Day blog!)

I’m highlighting an old favorite because my last two reads were disappointing and I’ve decided not to write full reviews….however, you can find them mentioned later in this post.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (cover) Image: white text over a reddish orangish landscape that has birds flying low over the water

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Abolition of Slavery, Women’s Rights, African-American, Plantation Life


The Invention of Wings is a fictionalized biographical account of the Grimke sisters as they become trailblazers in the abolition movement and early leaders in the fight for women’s rights.

The story takes place in the pre Civil War era and begins on a plantation in Charleston. On the occasion of Sarah Grimke’s eleventh birthday, she’s presented with her own slave, ten-year old Hetty “Handful” Grimke. Sarah has always been uncomfortable with this tradition. At first, Sarah and Handful are more like sisters and playmates as they develop a friendly companionship. As the story progresses, Sarah leaves Charleston to join her adventurous and fearless sister, Angelina, in the north as early pioneers in the fight for abolition and women’s rights. We follow Sarah’s and Hetty’s journeys for thirty-five years as both women strive to carve out a life of their own and navigate a close and complex relationship.

Amazon Rating (November): An amazing 4.7 Stars from over 12,000 reviews

My Thoughts:

The Invention of Wings has been a favorite for years, is on my lifetime favorites list, and is always at the top of my recommendation list. If you missed reading this or are looking for an excellent book club selection, I highly recommend this amazing story! Pictured below are my dearest reading buddies from book club day.

book club

My book club all enjoyed this intense, powerful, and amazing story based on the real-life Grimke sisters.

Memorable Characters. Invention of Wings is told through dual, alternating perspectives as we follow the lives of Sarah and Hetty and learn of their fears, hopes, and dreams. From an early age, Sarah exhibits a strong sense of social justice and equality (evidenced when Sarah teaches Hetty to read), and later we see her straining against her family’s and society’s expectations for a southern woman as she makes decisions to speak for abolition and fight for women’s rights. Through Hetty aka “Handful,” we experience the cruel treatment of slaves and also learn about her cultural heritage on her mother’s side. Each character faces limitations put on them and learns she is stronger than she thinks.

Unputdownable. Every reader’s experience is uniquely her own, and I found this story absorbing, engaging, thought-provoking, well researched, and unputdownable. I particularly love stories about real people doing daring, visionary, and brave things under difficult circumstances and against the odds. Although this story is highly fictionalized, it helps us find the heart and soul behind historical facts.

Themes. Any book that becomes one of my favorites includes important themes. A few of the poignant themes in The Invention of Wings includes the brave fight for freedom, finding your voice, loss and sorrow, the injustice of inequality, the fight to make the world a better place, complicated relationships, friendship, sisters, family, determination, loyalty, hope, daring, and empowerment.

Recommended. The Invention of Wings is highly recommended for fans of Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees), for readers of compelling and well-written historical fiction, for those who appreciate inspirational stories of strong, independent women, and for readers looking for an engaging book club selection.

Don’t miss this amazing story!

My Rating: 5 Stars


invention of wings

The Invention of Wings Information Here  (I suggest looking for the original non annotated version, not the Oprah annotated version)

Meet the Author, Sue Monk Kidd

sue monk kiddSue Monk Kidd’s first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than one hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold nearly six million copies, and was chosen as the 2004 BookSense Paperback Book of the Year and Good Morning America’s “Read This!” Book Club pick. It was adapted into an award-winning movie in 2008. Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, a #1 New York Times bestseller, won the 2005 Quill Book Award for Best General Fiction and was adapted into a television movie. Her novels have been published in more than thirty countries. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs and the recipient of many awards, including a Poets & Writers Award. She lives near Charleston, South Carolina.
Photo from Goodreads.


Have you read The Invention of Wings or is it on your TBR?
Do you have a favorite read that you always recommend?

Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text


bridge of clay

Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak (The Book Thief).  was not the book for me, and I can’t recommend it. It’s a long and tedious read at almost 500 pages,and is sprinkled with abundant offensive language and tragic and sad events. Although written beautifully in some places (Zusak is a master of figurative language and vivid descriptions), it’s obscure in others and sometimes entire sections left me confused. Fans of Zusak have been waiting thirteen years for a new book, and I fall in the group of fans that find this poignant story a disappointment. It’s also confusing that the target audience is YA, and I have difficulty envisioning this for them. I’m aware that reading is a personal experience and others have loved Bridge of Clay. Read more reviews here as you make your reading choice.
Two Stars.


Find my brief Goodreads review here.

harry's trees

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen was my second meh read this week. Others have really loved this, so I chalk this up to “not my preferred genre.” It resembles a fairy tale for adults and includes some magical realism (not my favorite). Usually I enjoy a quirky story and adore quirky characters; however, the story was simply a mediocre read for me and I didn’t love it. I found myself bored and skimming frequently. I kept reading to the end because I wanted to find out what happened, thus three stars. Every reader’s experience is different and its early Amazon rating is 4.5 Stars, so I encourage you to check out more reviews here.
3 Stars

Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

One title that I’m seriously considering is In Pieces by Sally Field. Beginning with The Flying Nun, Sally Field has played a lifelong prominent role in my entertainment life! I’ve heard though that it’s a gritty read in places.

In Pieces

Another consideration is the new release by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times. I’m almost certain that this is what my hubs will be reading for “Nonfiction November” as Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of his “auto buy” authors!

leadership in turbulent times

My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
So far I’ve read nine out of my twelve titles (three more to go!).

Let’s Get Social!

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



  1. Nice review Carol. Can’t say I have ever heard of either this book or author, but having just finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, I will be checking this out. 😎

  2. HI Carol– Have no read Invention of Wings, but am putting it on my library list! I truly loved Secret Live of Bees, but was disappointed with the Mermaids Chair, so good to have yoru thumbs up on this one. And– love your book group photo!! Do you meet at people’s houses?? Isn’t Cheryl always SO cute!! And the Zusak book doesn’t sound down my alley either. If I invest 500 pages of reading, I want to love a book! And thanks for the link up. I keep sending links to your blog to friends– I really love your posts! xox

    • I think you’ll love Invention of Wings!! Please let me know! I didn’t read the Mermaid one.

      That meeting was at my house….it was a special one time Book Club with old friends from years ago….we live in scattered areas and it’s hard to get together. So we gathered for lunch on a Saturday in August as much for a reunion as for book club!… that I’m retired I need to plan another one! It’s hard to find a book that you think everyone will like!

      I am in a bookclub with teachers from my district that meets once a month and we rotate homes.

      Thanks for sharing my blog! I appreciate it ❤️

  3. I have had this on my shelf forever, Carol! I need to get to it! I liked Harry’s Trees more than you, but I can definitely understand why it didn’t work for you. I loved seeing your book club, and I am STILL finishing In Pieces. I am loving it, and yes, it is difficult in parts. The writing is smooth, and it’s insightful and human. I hope I can finish it this weekend! Happy weekend!

    • Oh I hope you enjoy Invention of Wings! Please let me know!

      I’m not too much of a magical realism or fairy tale fan ….my least fav of Backman’s books is the Grandmother one. But I also suffer from FOMO when I read reviews.

      I’m glad to hear you are liking In Pieces! I’m on a long holds list at the library and it’s $14.99 for kindle and I’m on the fence about spending the money. I love Sally Field ❤️

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. […] Recommendable Finally, a five star read is one that I recommend to everyone (for years to come) with no hesitation or qualifications. It’s a “must read” book! One book I’ve been recommending for years is Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. My review here. […]

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