Kindred by Octavia Butler is a captivating mix of science and historical fiction. I decided to read it in preparation for an upcoming lesson with eleventh graders.
Dana is a black woman from California who is suddenly transported from her current time in the 70s to a plantation in antebellum south. She quickly realizes that she is there to save the plantation owner’s son (Rufus). Rufus is a distant relative, and Dana seems destined to travel back in time whenever his life is in danger – which is quite often. This creates a clash of worlds as she must transition from more modern times to a setting of brutal slavery.
Time is meaningless as she can be gone for days or months that only equate to minutes or hours in her time. It is only when her own life is threatened that she is able to return to her real life.
Dana manages to accustom herself to moving between times, even bringing along her white husband the second time. It becomes unclear whether Dana and her husband will ever be able to live normally in their correct time. Readers get to know the southern characters which makes every hardship even more horrific and Dana’s presence even more necessary, as perhaps she is not there to only help Rufus.
This book is unlike anything I’ve read before and one I won’t forget.