Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

A powerful book about slavery and the enduring strength of women facing adversity.


Moments after her birth to the mistress of a sprawling Virginia plantation, Lisbeth Wainwright is entrusted to Mattie, an enslaved wet nurse. From then on, Mattie serves as Lisbeth's stand-in mother, nursing her, singing her to sleep, and soothing her in the night. And yet mothering Lisbeth tears Mattie away from her own baby, Samuel, who lives in the slave quarters. Growing up under Mattie's tender care, Lisbeth adopts her traditions of prayer, singing, eating black-eyed peas, and hunting for yellow crocuses in the spring. As the years pass, Lisbeth is drawn back into the white world, earning a growing awareness of the inequality of her and Mattie's stations. She struggles to reconcile her love for Mattie with her parents' expectations for her future, intent on keeping the best of both worlds-until a terrible betrayal forces her to choose once and for all. Yellow Crocus is a compelling novel of love, loss, and redemption set during one of the most sinister chapters of American history.


I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It is a tale about Lisbeth Wainwright, the daughter of plantation owners who is ultimately raised by a loving black slave named Mattie. But far beyond the basic story, strong themes run throughout. Not only does this novel delve into the issue of slavery in the southern United States, but it is about the forced parting of black families, the selling of husbands and wives, the separation of children from their mothers. Despite such painful happenings, black men and women survived under such oppression.

Life-changing decisions, heart-wrenching separations, and enduring love are poignantly depicted. It was a pure joy to read, with the story line delicately unfolding page by page, holding the reader’s interest. In fact, the story begins with Mattie being wrenched away from her infant son to become nursemaid to the newly born Lisbeth in the main house. Intricate details about the birth and after the birth make for vivid reading. From thereon, the story focuses on the relationship between the two and the abiding love that burgeons between them. And what a fabulous ending – highly satisfying!

A powerful book about slavery and the enduring strength of women facing adversity. Yup it’s heart-wrenching, but a story that just has to be read. 


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