Kindred is a tale about heritage, slavery, race and survival, set in both the 1970’s and the 1800’s. After Dana Franklin’s twenty-sixth birthday, she experiences a dizziness which sends her back in time to a slavery plantation in the early 1800’s. She finds herself trying to bring Rufus and Alice together in order to continue her ancestry line. Alice is the daughter of a free black woman, Rufus is the son of the plantation owner; defiantly not an easy task, and as the reader, we experience what seems like an impossible mission.
Dana is a modern female (you could say a ‘plain Jane’, she works, has a husband, Kevin, lives in a house and has a passion for writing) she has basic privileges we tend to take for granted, such as freedom and ambition. She is placed in an era where that is taken from her, with her colour and gender causing further barriers. Although the novel is a fantasy, we can easily relate to Dana as each of her situations makes you wonder: how she will react? What can she do? What would I do?
The book is an unrealistic situation, it is beyond our understanding yet Octavia makes it all so real as we feel the whole journey with Dana, we sympathise with her as she is brutally treated at the plantation, we learn as much as she is learning. We come back home with her and dread for the dizziness to come as she waits at home not knowing what to do, it is as if we are in her and Kevin’s secret. The fact that Kevin is a white man becomes an important factor, we are taken back to times where interracial relationships are frowned upon, and the difference between black people and white peoples lifestyle are emphasised, often putting a strain on their relationship.
I felt this book was refreshing, it gave a point of view on slavery which was different to the personal diaries and historical text books circulated (and I’ve read a fair share). Different characters represent the lives of thousands of individuals who had survived the harsh conditions of the plantation, from runaway slaves, to the master’s wife to even the houseboy.
I would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you would like some knowledge on lifestyles in slavery; it is defiantly educating but doesn’t fail to tease your imagination. It is well written and is easy to read.