Whenever I am assigned to read and analyze a book for class, I never feel a sense of excitement or anticipation for the required literature. Most of the time, the assigned pieces don’t interest or intrigue me in any way. However, that is not always the case. A prime example of this is when the professor for my Introduction to Fiction class made my peers and me read Kindred by acclaimed author Octavia E. Butler.
Kindred is a science fiction novel that centers around Dana, an African-American writer living in California in 1976. On her 26th birthday, she time travels back to the antebellum time period in Maryland without any sort of explanation. There she meets Rufus–a plantation owner’s white son–who is drowning right in front of her. After she saves him, she is met with the barrel of a gun before being sent back to the Golden State. Dana continues to travel in time with each visit back, further risking her safety and life.
When I first picked up this title, I was surprised by how the text immediately hooked me. Usually, I have to push myself to read a required book due to how bored I am. But Butler captured and held my attention throughout as I was on the edge of my seat. The prose itself is also very accessible and not dense like the writing you would find in classics. Anyone can start reading Kindred without feeling lost or confused.
This book is comprised of many fantastic elements: the fascinating and fleshed-out main characters, the fast-paced and engaging plot, and the nuanced conversations about racism and interracial relationships. Even if you are not assigned this book for class, I would highly recommend picking it up in your free time. It will be worth it.