This story follows the parallel lives of Sarah and Hetty as they try to find lives of their own dictated by their heart and not the society they were born into. It is a novel that swept me into the world of the South at a time when owning slaves not only culturally acceptable but even looked upon as the Christian thing to do. It is inspired by the real life Sarah Grimke and her sister Angelina who became the first women to publicly start speaking up for not only the abolitionist movement but also the women's movement. Sarah's story is one of courage in the midst of huge pressure to conform, betrayal and then rejection. For such a historical character that accomplished so much for the not only the abolitionists but also the women's movement it is odd that neither her or her sister's name is one that is well known in history books. This story is well researched and really opens the readers eyes to the attitudes, justifications and culture of the time. I always wondered how the South, which was so entrenched in church and what they called Christianity could justify the inhumane treatment and ownership of other human beings and this story was able to show that in all it's ugliness. I also learned a lot through the characters of Hetty and her mother Charlotte who though born into slavery always had deep within the desire to be free and in control of their own life and strove to express it in whatever way they could even though the consequences would be dire if found out. I thought the aspect of Charlotte, who was a seamstress in the Grimke household, would tell her life story through the stitching of a quilt. Though the gift of reading and writing was kept from her, she still found a way to keep her personal history alive. This was a wonderful read of the stories of two young girls born into opposing stations of life growing into strong women reaching for their own destinies as their lives intertwine. The author did an excellent job of fleshing out historical people and relaying what might have been their experiences, heart and motivations.
As a last note I loved how the author ended the "Author's Notes" with this quote by Professor Julius Lester: