What’s New Pussycat: Literacy Programs (Books Through Bars)

fb_img_1520964442251555898774.jpgI started Blu Moon Fiction in order to share my passion for books and writing. I’ve been fortunate to work with some pretty respectable charities in my time as a result, which has fostered my interests in starting a few of my own as well as supporting the ones I work with presently.

Every Tuesday between 7:30 and 9:30 pm a few kind souls gather together and send some books to individuals in need. Books Through Bars, an all-volunteer non-profit organization helps the community while striving to reverse the devastating effects that injustice and incarceration has on individuals, families and communities.

What interested me the most in this group was their book distribution programBooks Through Bars, sends free books and educational materials to prisoners in; Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. The books are sent to anyone who asks, as long as their prison accepts books.

Books Through Bars also hosts Address This! an education and empowerment project providing innovative correspondence courses to individuals incarcerated in Pennsylvania. Address This! pays special attention to the participation of prisoners in address thissolitary confinement or maximum security, who often have little access to such educational options.

Through their community outreach, strives to educate the general public about prison issues. The organization has sat in on panels and staff tables at community events to raise awareness around prison issues. Books Through Bars has also hosted a film festival, read-a-thons, as well as various public conversation on alternatives to prisons

The group is responsible for affecting thousands of lives, from the organizations recipients across the US down to the volunteers who’ve dedicated their time to make a difference. fb_img_1520612713256858056820.jpg

The group gathers most of its books from donations and is always looking for more, I decided to do my part by hosting a Read-Olympics and Book Drive on behalf of the program. Blu Moon Fiction will also be selling a fantasy art calendar featuring local talent. With 10% of the proceeds going to this organization right here.

If you’d like to donate your time as well as a book or two. Books Through Bars;  holds weekly volunteering, Tuesday nights 7:30–9:30 PM. But if you’re in the area on a weekend and would like to also volunteer you can also do so on the 1st & 3rd Saturday of every month.

Which Organizations Do You Like To Support?

Leave A Comment Below!

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You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

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WWW Wednesday (Jan 24,2018)

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Hey all…. it’s WWW Wednesday again! As always, it’s really easy because there are only THREE questions! WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words! Be sure to post your answers in the comments below and head over to Sam’s when you’re done!

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What are you currently reading?

It’s funny this is the second week in a row the #AmReading book is actually one I haven’t started just yet. I will be reading it right after I divide my pages. Tithe by Holly Black has been a part of my library for at least a year.

It was part of a book binge I experienced right after breaking my reading slump. I gorged my shelves with fantasy and came across this “modern faerie tale”

I’m said to meet 16- year – old Kaye, officially making this my first YA book of the year. Her nomadic lifestyle amidst her mom’s rockband is disrupted and she ends up in NJ in the middle of a faerie firefight.

It definitely looks interesting. 331 pages with an excerpt for White Cat (another book I haven’t read yet) inside.

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What did you recently finish reading?

I finished reading Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire on Monday. While writing the review which you can read here, I learned about the Disney adaptation of the book featuring Stockard Channing as Margarethe ten Broek Fisher Van den Meer. As expected Disney’s adaptation glazed over the murder, threw in some actual magic, a fairy godmother and made Clara more agreeable and less like an unwilling child bride.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

At this point I’ve had enough of Cinderella and her sisters, though Maguire has written a spin to Alice in Wonderland, and I haven’t read the ready of The Wicked Years yet. I’m actually considering starting the Lunar Chronicles by Marisa Meyer.

What Are You Reading Right Now? Leave A Comment Below!

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You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What We're Reading: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

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Rating: 5 out of 5

There are many inceptions of maidens being rescued from poverty by handsome princes. Most renowned is probably “Cinderella”. First recorded in 7 BC Egypt; the tale appears in Italy around 1634 and laid the groundwork for both Charles Perrault (1697) and the Grimm Brothers(1812). With Disney, sampling from Perrault in their 1950 animated movie. Though borrowing the french Prince Phillippe de Marsillac our tale takes place in Holland.

I have come to regard Gregory Maguire as one of my favorite authors. His ability to recreate and expand upon world’s I’m familiar with is refreshing. I aspire to his talents someday in my own writing pursuits.

After my experience with Wicked I knew he was a good author but my read through Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister gave me a newfound respect. Set during the 17th Century, the book was simple enough to read, I even learned a few new words no longer in common use.

A reimagining of the classic fairytale Cinderella, Confessions offers a look at the tale from the view of the stepsisters of the fairytale. One mentally impaired, oversized and unable to speak. The other extremely observant; clever in her own right, a talented painter if not heavy on the eyes. Two sisters thrust into our story by fate.

Murder…

Someone murdered Jack Fisher, and because of his death the widow Fisher and her two daughters Ruth and Iris fled to Holland for safety. Having read the story, I have my own ideas as to why Margarethe may have been in danger.

Once there we witness Cinderella, through Maguire’s eyes. The widow Fisher works as a scullery maid for room, board and meager wages to care for herself and her two daughters. Though she earns the affections of painter, Luykas Schoonmaker, she leaves for a position in the wealthier Van den Meer household. Initially they are servants, but Margarethe ensures that soon she is the mistress of the house.

I enjoy Maguire’s ability to add depth to his characters. He advises initially that the story of Cinderella had been embellished to disguise a families shame and proceeds to unveil the sordid details of how Clara “Cinderella” Van den Meer came to find her prince. There was almost nothing I would change about the novel except for the minor loose end that is discussed but not resolved in the epilogue.

**Spoiler Alert**

Echoing the traditional tale, widow Margarethe Fisher marries wealthy widower merchant Cornelius Van den Meer and is charged with caring for his home and his beautiful daughter Clara. Margarethe has two daughters of her own, though the eldest Ruth is oversized and mute, the youngest Iris is merely unbearably plain to look at. Despite her hopes, however, the Van den Meer fortune was not as secure as she’d speculated and the fate of of the household depends on attending the royal ball and wooing the Prince.

The Van den Meer fortune, has as big a role in the story as any other character and it was more impactful. It was their wealth that made the Vinckboons so notable in Haarlem, their wealth attracted Cornelius Van den Meer, Henrika’s dowry made him wealthy and kept him in line.

Their wealth drew the attention of the kidnappers, “Crows”, who took Clara and called Margarethe to their home. It was wealth Margarethe coveted, squandered and lost. The family fortune was restored and possibly exceeded when Clara ascended the throne. The Van den Meer fortune was the true magical force in the story.

Confessions is a story of transformations, altering the tale of “Cinderella” itself entirely but specifically regarding the characters. Margarethe is crafty, always moving she consistently changes her surroundings and her station in pursuit of “better”. Always looking for her next big opportunity.

It is then ironic that her sight is the very sense that begins to fail her, having been so sharp with her tongue regarding beauty and her observations of the world around her. We watch a gradual regression of her sight and its effects on her ability to manipulate her world.

The concept of sight is heavily discussed in the book with focuses on artwork, religion and beauty being mentioned frequently. We come to discover that though the story is full of artists, monstrosities, muses and fair maidens, each character lacked some form of beauty and was unwilling to see the truth of their world.

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Clara is both gifted and cursed with physical beauty. It is possibly what attracted the kidnappers to her in the first place, a reason the townspeople think she is a changeling, as well as the reason her father commissions, Girl with Tulips. Her beauty is her greatest asset and her biggest burden. She despises the attention she gets for being attractive, yet it is her looks that earns the affections of the Prince. She was blind to her strength but was willing to forsake her comforts for the safety of her family.

Iris is visibly hard to look at, but has a sharp mind and a keen eye.

She absorbs images like a sponge, a gift that exhibits itself in her painting and weakens itself when blurred by her emotions. She is blind to her own inner beauty, her resilience of spirit or how others perceive her.

She becomes so accustomed to being criticized on her outer beauty, she disregards her gifts entirely, only realizing after its too late that she too had a chance at the Prince. It is Iris who made it feasible for Clara to attend the ball. Her inability to see Caspar’s feelings for her is one of few annoyances throughout the story.

Margarethe was unwilling to see her future with Schoonmaker who may have truly cared for her once, her obsession with wealth corrupts her and she grows old and literally blind to the world around her. Everyone seems blind to Ruth as she is mute and perceived unintelligent, she actually happens to be the narrator, proving her to be highly observant in her own right and equally intelligent.

Beauty is seen both superficially in the obvious beauty of the tulips or Clara, but also in stark contrast to things seen as ugly. The the beauty of sorrow is addressed. The comparison of how uncomely Iris is in comparison to the wildflowers of the meadow as well as her step sister Clara. Clara has all the beauty and social graces that Iris lacks but is confined to the manor first by her mother and then by herself.

She is infantile and spoiled though she matures over time taking on the responsibilities of the kitchen and her ailing fathers health. Her looks occasionally currency for items Margarethe desires but can’t afford. Maguire uses the obsession with stereotypical beauty as a curse while elevating inner beauty to a higher standard. It is kindness that indicates true beauty.

This is the second book I’ve read, (since I haven’t finished the Wicked Years series) that Maguire reimagines with a less fantastical explanation to magical occurrences. The concepts of magic are considered to be childlike understanding that as you grow you create your own magic. Margarethe often says to let her cast her eel spear and to move out of her way. Clara sees herself and Ruth initially as changelings, Iris believes she sees imps and Margarethe flees England with the girls for fear of persecution of being a witch.

Maguire toys with societies superstitions and understanding of science during that time period to give a more realistic still very magical spin on the chain of events that control our story.

Margarethe’s gifts for herbs which suited her in getting her way was also her downfall, perhaps the price for trafficking in that particular sort of “magic”. The loss of her eyesight fitting for a woman whose hubris and vanity hinged on pride and appearance.

The imp that plagues Iris and the crows who “changed” Clara are metaphors, psychological projections of the evils of man. Clara rationalized the ‘crows’ as spirits who abducted her for misbehaving and returned her once she became a “good” child. In truth she was kidnapped probably by Von Stalk, (it’s never made clear if he’s definitely responsible). Iris feels the “imp” whenever she or another character are up to some form of mischief or another.

Having finished the book my only question is did Margarethe kill her husband or did she really flee because they thought she was a witch? I would love to know more of her backstory. It reminds me of Cora from Once Upon A Time.

Have You Read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by

Gregory Maguire? What did you think? Which is your favorite retelling of Cinderella? Let me Know in the Comments Below!

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What We’re Reading: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

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Rating: 5 out of 5

There are many inceptions of maidens being rescued from poverty by handsome princes. Most renowned is probably “Cinderella”. First recorded in 7 BC Egypt; the tale appears in Italy around 1634 and laid the groundwork for both Charles Perrault (1697) and the Grimm Brothers(1812). With Disney, sampling from Perrault in their 1950 animated movie. Though borrowing the french Prince Phillippe de Marsillac our tale takes place in Holland.

I have come to regard Gregory Maguire as one of my favorite authors. His ability to recreate and expand upon world’s I’m familiar with is refreshing. I aspire to his talents someday in my own writing pursuits.

After my experience with Wicked I knew he was a good author but my read through Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister gave me a newfound respect. Set during the 17th Century, the book was simple enough to read, I even learned a few new words no longer in common use.

A reimagining of the classic fairytale Cinderella, Confessions offers a look at the tale from the view of the stepsisters of the fairytale. One mentally impaired, oversized and unable to speak. The other extremely observant; clever in her own right, a talented painter if not heavy on the eyes. Two sisters thrust into our story by fate.

Murder…

Someone murdered Jack Fisher, and because of his death the widow Fisher and her two daughters Ruth and Iris fled to Holland for safety. Having read the story, I have my own ideas as to why Margarethe may have been in danger.

Once there we witness Cinderella, through Maguire’s eyes. The widow Fisher works as a scullery maid for room, board and meager wages to care for herself and her two daughters. Though she earns the affections of painter, Luykas Schoonmaker, she leaves for a position in the wealthier Van den Meer household. Initially they are servants, but Margarethe ensures that soon she is the mistress of the house.

I enjoy Maguire’s ability to add depth to his characters. He advises initially that the story of Cinderella had been embellished to disguise a families shame and proceeds to unveil the sordid details of how Clara “Cinderella” Van den Meer came to find her prince. There was almost nothing I would change about the novel except for the minor loose end that is discussed but not resolved in the epilogue.

**Spoiler Alert**

Echoing the traditional tale, widow Margarethe Fisher marries wealthy widower merchant Cornelius Van den Meer and is charged with caring for his home and his beautiful daughter Clara. Margarethe has two daughters of her own, though the eldest Ruth is oversized and mute, the youngest Iris is merely unbearably plain to look at. Despite her hopes, however, the Van den Meer fortune was not as secure as she’d speculated and the fate of of the household depends on attending the royal ball and wooing the Prince.

The Van den Meer fortune, has as big a role in the story as any other character and it was more impactful. It was their wealth that made the Vinckboons so notable in Haarlem, their wealth attracted Cornelius Van den Meer, Henrika’s dowry made him wealthy and kept him in line.

Their wealth drew the attention of the kidnappers, “Crows”, who took Clara and called Margarethe to their home. It was wealth Margarethe coveted, squandered and lost. The family fortune was restored and possibly exceeded when Clara ascended the throne. The Van den Meer fortune was the true magical force in the story.

Confessions is a story of transformations, altering the tale of “Cinderella” itself entirely but specifically regarding the characters. Margarethe is crafty, always moving she consistently changes her surroundings and her station in pursuit of “better”. Always looking for her next big opportunity.

It is then ironic that her sight is the very sense that begins to fail her, having been so sharp with her tongue regarding beauty and her observations of the world around her. We watch a gradual regression of her sight and its effects on her ability to manipulate her world.

The concept of sight is heavily discussed in the book with focuses on artwork, religion and beauty being mentioned frequently. We come to discover that though the story is full of artists, monstrosities, muses and fair maidens, each character lacked some form of beauty and was unwilling to see the truth of their world.

d89915612e93a6156e3fbaaed25b4e0b144921915.jpg

Clara is both gifted and cursed with physical beauty. It is possibly what attracted the kidnappers to her in the first place, a reason the townspeople think she is a changeling, as well as the reason her father commissions, Girl with Tulips. Her beauty is her greatest asset and her biggest burden. She despises the attention she gets for being attractive, yet it is her looks that earns the affections of the Prince. She was blind to her strength but was willing to forsake her comforts for the safety of her family.

Iris is visibly hard to look at, but has a sharp mind and a keen eye.

She absorbs images like a sponge, a gift that exhibits itself in her painting and weakens itself when blurred by her emotions. She is blind to her own inner beauty, her resilience of spirit or how others perceive her.

She becomes so accustomed to being criticized on her outer beauty, she disregards her gifts entirely, only realizing after its too late that she too had a chance at the Prince. It is Iris who made it feasible for Clara to attend the ball. Her inability to see Caspar’s feelings for her is one of few annoyances throughout the story.

Margarethe was unwilling to see her future with Schoonmaker who may have truly cared for her once, her obsession with wealth corrupts her and she grows old and literally blind to the world around her. Everyone seems blind to Ruth as she is mute and perceived unintelligent, she actually happens to be the narrator, proving her to be highly observant in her own right and equally intelligent.

Beauty is seen both superficially in the obvious beauty of the tulips or Clara, but also in stark contrast to things seen as ugly. The the beauty of sorrow is addressed. The comparison of how uncomely Iris is in comparison to the wildflowers of the meadow as well as her step sister Clara. Clara has all the beauty and social graces that Iris lacks but is confined to the manor first by her mother and then by herself.

She is infantile and spoiled though she matures over time taking on the responsibilities of the kitchen and her ailing fathers health. Her looks occasionally currency for items Margarethe desires but can’t afford. Maguire uses the obsession with stereotypical beauty as a curse while elevating inner beauty to a higher standard. It is kindness that indicates true beauty.

This is the second book I’ve read, (since I haven’t finished the Wicked Years series) that Maguire reimagines with a less fantastical explanation to magical occurrences. The concepts of magic are considered to be childlike understanding that as you grow you create your own magic. Margarethe often says to let her cast her eel spear and to move out of her way. Clara sees herself and Ruth initially as changelings, Iris believes she sees imps and Margarethe flees England with the girls for fear of persecution of being a witch.

Maguire toys with societies superstitions and understanding of science during that time period to give a more realistic still very magical spin on the chain of events that control our story.

Margarethe’s gifts for herbs which suited her in getting her way was also her downfall, perhaps the price for trafficking in that particular sort of “magic”. The loss of her eyesight fitting for a woman whose hubris and vanity hinged on pride and appearance.

The imp that plagues Iris and the crows who “changed” Clara are metaphors, psychological projections of the evils of man. Clara rationalized the ‘crows’ as spirits who abducted her for misbehaving and returned her once she became a “good” child. In truth she was kidnapped probably by Von Stalk, (it’s never made clear if he’s definitely responsible). Iris feels the “imp” whenever she or another character are up to some form of mischief or another.

Having finished the book my only question is did Margarethe kill her husband or did she really flee because they thought she was a witch? I would love to know more of her backstory. It reminds me of Cora from Once Upon A Time.

Have You Read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by

Gregory Maguire? What did you think? Which is your favorite retelling of Cinderella? Let me Know in the Comments Below!

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

WWW Wednesday  (Jan 17, 2018)

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Hey all…. it’s WWW Wednesday again! As always, it’s really easy because there are only THREE questions! WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words! Be sure to post your answers in the comments below and head over to Sam’s when you’re done!

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What are you currently reading?

confessions of ugly stepsister

While writing this post, I must admit I haven’t actually started reading this book yet. I probably will have read a few pages, once this has been published.

I’m finally getting around to reading Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire author of “The Wicked Years,” series. Based on the children’s story Cinderella. Maguire uses his typical flair to retell the classic tale from the perspective of the sisters left behind.

The story is set in 17th century Holland and since I’m not familiar with it at all. I’ll just have to read on to find out more about it.

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What did you recently finish reading?

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I finished reading Kindred by Octavia Butler, yesterday afternoon. The fantastical tale of a modern woman of the 70s transported to the antebellum South to save the life of a young boy named Rufus. Our heroine endures, the systematic abuse of the time period while trying to complete her mission and return home. This book will infuriate you, bring tears to your eyes and have you cheering for the unspeakable. But if you read it, you’ll be happy you did.

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I also recently finished Hart’s Hope by Orson Scott Card. I respect that man as a pioneer in the speculative fiction genre but regretfully disliked this book a lot. The reasons are endless and you can read more about them here. Definitely check it out for yourself before making your final opinions.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m honestly not sure I’ve been meaning to finish reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, but I also wouldn’t mind starting a new series…decisions….

What Are You Reading Right Now? Leave A Comment Below!

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You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What We’re Reading: Kindred

Rating: 5 out of 5

Written in 1979, Kindred by Octavia Butler has been on my bookshelf for at least a year without me so much as reading the table of contents.

I’d bought it at the suggestion of some writer friends who offered it as a title written by and featuring black people. The search led me to Butler as an author and Kindred as the first book to read from her long list of award winning novels.

The story of Kindred, is a massive trigger warning for people of color, descendants of slavery and oppression as well as women who’ve survived sexual assault as well as various forms of domestic abuse.

The most difficult parts of the book were the parts of the story that gave it it’s edge. A glimpse at the degradation experienced as a slave in the antebellum South.

As Dana traveled back and forth through space and time I too went on a journey of self discovery, though no stranger to the tales of slavery, this particular story had the added insult of having a free woman from the modern world transported to the past and told she had to act the part. In a time where slavery is a not so distant memory and injustice is an everyday publicized occurrence the similarities of the past and the present are undeniable.

I could’ve been Dana, transported from my Philadelphia home in 2018 to 1815 where my complexion merely meant I probably wouldn’t work out in the fields. I’m not sure if I could’ve rescued Rufus.

The title Kindred, could speak to the two couples most noted in the book. The juxtaposition between Rufus and Alice & Kevin and Dana is a connection I couldn’t quite explain.

During the reign of slavery, slaves weren’t able to marry, had no rights and weren’t even seen as people. Rufus exploited this in his pursuits to woo, abuse and eventually drive Alice a formerly free woman to kill herself. Though Rufus claimed to love Alice his actions showed he could only love her as much as he could any other property he possessed.

A stark contrast from the 70s, marrying outside of your race wasn’t common but occurred. Kevin waited 5 years for Dana and she returned to endure humiliation for him.

I personally don’t feel the title speaks to the story at all. I wouldn’t even say that Dana and Rufus are kindred spirits, their only connection being a bloodline established out of rape and systematic torture. Usually when thinking of the word, it elicits thoughts of fate and a connection that surpasses all boundaries.

This particular connection was to a place, time and person contradictory to the life Dana had built for herself. Beyond transcending time to save his own skin, Rufus Weylin exhibited none of the qualities of a kindred spirit.

It would be easy to create stereotypical characters and in some way Butler, manipulated stereotypes to tell her story however, I would say that Butler was able to cultivate well rounded life-like characters that I connected with and felt for. Dana for me was the most relatable. I am a black woman living in the modern era, it was as if I had been transported into the pass and as she was stripped of each layer of the modern world in a way so was I. There were times I felt physically sick from reading about her ordeal but I’m happy for having read it.

Octavia Butler must have a great mind to consider the conundrum she beset Dana. Without Rufus she would cease to exist, but how long is she to endure to ensure her own safety? She also forms a bind with the boy, once hoping to influence him for the better he evolves into the beast she dreaded despite her presence. I felt myself densely waiting on the arrival of her first descendant just so she could go home and never return.

Dana and Kevin are a biracial couple living in 1978 California at a time when race relations were tense but facing process. Their immediate transport to the antebellum South where white men used black slave women as bed warmers and breeders is a 180 degree switch from what they’re used to. Rufus, his parents and even the slaves had simply been playing the roles taught to them by society as a whole.

A part of the story I didn’t care for is the loss of her arm and the explanation behind it. Call me overly sympathetic to Dana’s plight but hadn’t she gone through enough? To then say that Butler, couldn’t have let her return completely, that some part of her had to remain in the past.

Personally, I feel by the end of the book that Dana had been altered enough and choosing to leave her with both arms wouldn’t have hurt. She’d been overworked, slapped, punched, kicked, whipped and had at one point slit her own wrists. Dana will forever be physically and psychologically altered.

I suppose one would have to wonder how Rufus survived without Dana prior to her birth, but I guess time paradoxes would suggest that she was always the one who kept him alive.

With more than 450,000 copies in print I can see why Kindred comes so highly recommended. The Book itself is a healthy blend of genres spanning across science fiction, fantasy, neo-slave narratives and historical fiction.

Kindred made me openly cry and wanna jump into the book and throttle the characters. I happily give this one a 5 out of 5.

Have You Read Kindred? What did you think? Let me Know in the Comments Below!


You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What We're Reading: Kindred

Rating: 5 out of 5

Written in 1979, Kindred by Octavia Butler has been on my bookshelf for at least a year without me so much as reading the table of contents.

I’d bought it at the suggestion of some writer friends who offered it as a title written by and featuring black people. The search led me to Butler as an author and Kindred as the first book to read from her long list of award winning novels.

The story of Kindred, is a massive trigger warning for people of color, descendants of slavery and oppression as well as women who’ve survived sexual assault as well as various forms of domestic abuse.

The most difficult parts of the book were the parts of the story that gave it it’s edge. A glimpse at the degradation experienced as a slave in the antebellum South.

As Dana traveled back and forth through space and time I too went on a journey of self discovery, though no stranger to the tales of slavery, this particular story had the added insult of having a free woman from the modern world transported to the past and told she had to act the part. In a time where slavery is a not so distant memory and injustice is an everyday publicized occurrence the similarities of the past and the present are undeniable.

I could’ve been Dana, transported from my Philadelphia home in 2018 to 1815 where my complexion merely meant I probably wouldn’t work out in the fields. I’m not sure if I could’ve rescued Rufus.

The title Kindred, could speak to the two couples most noted in the book. The juxtaposition between Rufus and Alice & Kevin and Dana is a connection I couldn’t quite explain.

During the reign of slavery, slaves weren’t able to marry, had no rights and weren’t even seen as people. Rufus exploited this in his pursuits to woo, abuse and eventually drive Alice a formerly free woman to kill herself. Though Rufus claimed to love Alice his actions showed he could only love her as much as he could any other property he possessed.

A stark contrast from the 70s, marrying outside of your race wasn’t common but occurred. Kevin waited 5 years for Dana and she returned to endure humiliation for him.

I personally don’t feel the title speaks to the story at all. I wouldn’t even say that Dana and Rufus are kindred spirits, their only connection being a bloodline established out of rape and systematic torture. Usually when thinking of the word, it elicits thoughts of fate and a connection that surpasses all boundaries.

This particular connection was to a place, time and person contradictory to the life Dana had built for herself. Beyond transcending time to save his own skin, Rufus Weylin exhibited none of the qualities of a kindred spirit.

It would be easy to create stereotypical characters and in some way Butler, manipulated stereotypes to tell her story however, I would say that Butler was able to cultivate well rounded life-like characters that I connected with and felt for. Dana for me was the most relatable. I am a black woman living in the modern era, it was as if I had been transported into the pass and as she was stripped of each layer of the modern world in a way so was I. There were times I felt physically sick from reading about her ordeal but I’m happy for having read it.

Octavia Butler must have a great mind to consider the conundrum she beset Dana. Without Rufus she would cease to exist, but how long is she to endure to ensure her own safety? She also forms a bind with the boy, once hoping to influence him for the better he evolves into the beast she dreaded despite her presence. I felt myself densely waiting on the arrival of her first descendant just so she could go home and never return.

Dana and Kevin are a biracial couple living in 1978 California at a time when race relations were tense but facing process. Their immediate transport to the antebellum South where white men used black slave women as bed warmers and breeders is a 180 degree switch from what they’re used to. Rufus, his parents and even the slaves had simply been playing the roles taught to them by society as a whole.

A part of the story I didn’t care for is the loss of her arm and the explanation behind it. Call me overly sympathetic to Dana’s plight but hadn’t she gone through enough? To then say that Butler, couldn’t have let her return completely, that some part of her had to remain in the past.

Personally, I feel by the end of the book that Dana had been altered enough and choosing to leave her with both arms wouldn’t have hurt. She’d been overworked, slapped, punched, kicked, whipped and had at one point slit her own wrists. Dana will forever be physically and psychologically altered.

I suppose one would have to wonder how Rufus survived without Dana prior to her birth, but I guess time paradoxes would suggest that she was always the one who kept him alive.

With more than 450,000 copies in print I can see why Kindred comes so highly recommended. The Book itself is a healthy blend of genres spanning across science fiction, fantasy, neo-slave narratives and historical fiction.

Kindred made me openly cry and wanna jump into the book and throttle the characters. I happily give this one a 5 out of 5.

Have You Read Kindred? What did you think? Let me Know in the Comments Below!


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