“Suppose time is a circle, bending back on itself. The world repeats itself, precisely, endlessly.” – Alan Lightman “Einstein’s Dreams”
I finished this book right before work this morning, which really sucks, because I was really emotional and this review would’ve been way different if I had been able to write it right away, but alas, 8 hours later you’re about to get the more subdued version.
I’m going to lay it all down right here: Rufus Weylin, Dana’s (the main character) slave owning, many times great grandpa, is one of the most despicable, horrifying characters I’ve ever had the displeasure to read about. I HATED this man. Loathed him. Couldn’t understand Dana’s feeling of connection with him. So let me back up and explain the plot.
Dana is a modern woman living is the 1970’s. She’s recently married to a white man, and they’ve just moved into their first house together. Everything’s fine until Dana spontaneously gets pulled (?) back into the early 1800’s Maryland. Maryland is a southern state, a slave state, and Dana is black. Why is this happening? Why this time, this place? Well, Dana’s great, great (piece of shit) grandpa Rufus is a bit of a klutz, and is constantly almost dying. Every time this happens, Dana gets pulled back and has to save his sorry ass. Although really tempting to let him just meet his fate, Dana cannot if she wants to continue existing.
Everything, the psychology of the slave, the psychology of the slave owner, women’s place as both slave and slave owner, the violence- everything was in this book. It was emotionally taut. A very fast read. Painful. What Dana was able to endure; I would never be strong enough to emulate. I could not have been beaten, or held against my will. I would’ve shriveled up into nothing. I tiny little nugget of my former self. Not Dana though, she kept it together. Endured Rufe…
Rufe… that shithead little snake of a man. How I HATED him. Wanted him dead. Why and how Dana? I could not. I hated Rufus more than I hated his father. At least with his father you knew what you were getting, but Rufus was a monster that pretended at times to me empathetic, but when he didn’t get his way he was even more dangerous.
I couldn’t recommend this book enough. It was so powerful. The writing was dated a bit, but the message was relevant. Will always be relevant. Our country was built on the back of slavery and murder. I hope we never forget that.