Written By Octavia Butler
Published by Doubleday 1979 (hardcover)
Published by Beacon Press 1988 (paperback)
Kindred is the story of Dana a writer living in California in the 1970’s with her husband Kevin. One day out of nowhere Dana is taken back in time to antebellum south where she encounters a young boy named Rufus who is drowning. Dana saves Rufus and we quickly find out that the two have a connection. Dana is transported several times never knowing exactly how long she will stay but, it’s always when Rufus is in trouble. Time moves slower in the present than in the past, at one point Dana is stuck in the past for 8 months but, when she returns home it’s only been a few hours. Rufus lives with his father and mother on their plantation where of course they own slaves. Through the course of time Dana meets and interacts with these slaves, comes to know some of them and, learns the connection some of them have to her life.
Kindred is billed as a science fiction book , Octavia Butler a science fiction writer. I have only read a handful of sci-fi in my life so I am no expert in how it’s “supposed” to be done. All I know is, if this is how it’s done then I am all in. The time travel aspect of this book is never explained,we never find out the “science” part of the science fiction but it doesn’t matter. Time travel is obviously important to the story but Dana, is the story. There are quite a few characters in the book but Dana and Rufus are what the story revolves around. Rufus is exactly what you would expect. The slave-owning son of a slave owner in antebellum south. He is cruel, mean,and unreasonable but at times I found myself sympathizing with him. Then I hated myself a little of course. Dana is on my list of favorite characters ever. She is smart and strong yet vulnerable. Her reactions weren’t always what I wanted them to be but, given the circumstances they are the right ones. Dana learns quickly to curb her modern-day tendencies in order to survive even though it doesn’t always keep her out of trouble.
Butler doesn’t spare anyone’s feelings in this book she is raw and graphic. At time it’s difficult to read but also very necessary to the story. Nothing is all black or all white (pun intended). Everyone one is flawed and that’s what makes this book so good. I found myself feeling bad for people I hated and getting angry with people I should feel bad for. This book was a roller-coaster of emotions and I loved it. I can’t wait to get my hands on more Octavia Butler.
Until Next Time