Two books in one day? Who is she?
Dana is a writer from 1976 who inexplicable finds herself transported back to antebellum Maryland. She saves a child from drowning and must figure out this strange new power while surviving as a modern black woman in the South.
I believe I started reading this book as part of a virtual book club back in 2021, and unfortunately had to stop reading it about halfway through when classes cut out more of my life than I had to offer.
This book is amazing, to put it simply. The first 5 star read of 2022, for sure. If there is one narrator I will ever whole-heartedly rely on, it’s Dana. She understands her own mind so soundly (to a degree) that the events of the book are undeniable proof of what’s happening to her.
That degree I’m talking about only comes to Rufus, because she has no idea why or how she could continue to care for him, even when he’s done all of the terrible things he’s done. She’s transparent with that too, though, because she knows what she feels for him, she just can’t understand the why.
This book is an excellent balance between detail and exposition. You follow along as Dana is forced to be a bystander in her own life, because of who she is in the past. It’s upsetting, but you’re upset on behalf of Dana, and that’s the whole point. You’re supposed to feel as helpless as she does, in the South, with the time travel, even within her own marriage. That’s not a comment on Kevin, who does his best, but more of the fact that she knows there’s something between them now since their journey into the past that can never go away.
The physical scars she has from her time in Maryland are much lesser than the emotional and psychological scars she will bear for the rest of her life. It’s always awful to watch the protagonist go through any amount of pain, and it’s heartbreaking to realize that, as Dana says herself, she has it a lot easier than most do and did.
The writing of this book was so smooth, the ending surprised me. I didn’t realize it was winding down until I got to the Epilogue. It’s been a long time since a book has made me really feel things, and the tightness in my chest I had while reading this book is the equivalent to stopping at the top of the first hill on a rollercoaster: I know there’s going to be a terrifying, steep descent, and I can only hope things get better from there.
The commentary on colorism within the narrative was really well done, and not something I’ve seen very often, but it is something I wanted to point out. I don’t want to say much more in this review, because the book is so good and I want people to read it, so I’ll leave it here.
If you’ve read this book before, then you’d like The Confessions of Frannie Langton, which isn’t sci-fi, but I could draw quite a few comparisons between Dana and Frances. Alternatively, if you have read Kindred and haven’t read The Confessions of Frannie Langton, you should add it to your TBR. As always, check content warnings beforehand.
Trigger warnings: slavery, racism, racial slurs, rape, sexual assault, suicide, miscarriage, child death, blood, body horror, injury, injury detail, vomit