Kindred

Much of Butler’s fiction (including my favorite, Lilith’s Brood) looks to the future. But Kindred is marked by a fascinating look back: Dana, a black woman from present-day Los Angeles, is suddenly and mysteriously drawn to the past, where she rescues her ancestor, the white son of a slave owner in the antebellum South. In her repeated jumps back in time, she begins to live a second life, making friends and enemies and adjusting to the constraints of the past. The time travel structure is remarkable, but the book’s darkest moments are the quietest ones: when Dana realizes how much she can bend herself to accomodate the white supremacy of the era—how much she’s able to give up in order to survive. Until, at last, she reaches her limit.