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In her latest work, the author of The Secret Life of Bees weaves fiction onto the fabric of history in a story about Sarah, the older of the two famed abolitionist Grimké sisters, and her "birthday gift" personal slave, the very aptly-named Handful. The two adolescents attempt to carve out a human relationship; Sarah even illegally teaching her charge to read; but in antebellum Charleston, such "incendiary" deviations are treated seriously and both are punished. The Invention of Wings traces the relations of these accidental allies over thirty years, charting their challenges, defeats, and triumphs with unsentimental verve.