Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

 

Science FictionKindred by Octavia E. Butler

KindredOctavia E. Butler; Beacon Press 1988WorldCat

Dana and her husband Kevin are moving into their new home in California. While shelving their numerous books, she gets dizzy and semi-conscious. When facilities return, she is on the edge of a river watching a young boy drowning. She rescues him before she has a chance to analyze the situation, administrating CPR despite the boy’s shrieking mother to “leave him alone!” As the boy Rufus recovers, his father rushes up and points a shotgun at Dana. Just as suddenly she returns to her own living room.

Kevin saw her disappear and return. Rufus’ family saw her disappear. There is no explanation. A few hours later it happens again. This time Dana shows up just as Rufus is about to set fire to some draperies in his room. She puts out the fire and talks with Rufus. She is unexplicably in Maryland in 1815, not the 1976 California she had left. She is black, saving a slaveholder’s white son. Dana knows she has to escape Rufus’ house until she can figure out what is going on.

Rufus and Dana are intertwined. She remembers from her family history his family’s last name. It seems he is her great-grandfather many, many times back. She knows little about the time period to where she is transported. Any hurt she sustains in 1815 Maryland travel back with her to 1976 California. He only knows black people as slaves on his plantation. He cannot understand Dana or her attitude.

What a powerful novel! It is science fiction because of the time travel. Other than that, it is an interesting study and perspective of the early 1800’s in the U.S.A. and the callous treatment of negroes in slavery. Since Dana’s perspective was formed 150 years later, the atrocities are astounding to her, not the everyday life and treatment attitude adopted by the negroes of the time. The twisted relationship between Dana and Rufus gets more entangled as he keeps pulling her back and her visits are longer.

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