Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Yellow Crocus

Mattie was never truly mine. That knowledge must have filled me as quickly and surely as the milk from her breasts. Although my family‘owned' her, although she occupied the center of my universe, her deepest affections lay elsewhere. So along with the comfort of her came the fear that I would lose her some day. This is our story...

From the Publisher:
So begins Lisbeth Wainwright's compelling tale of coming-of-age in antebellum Virginia. Born to white plantation owners but raised by her enslaved black wet nurse, Mattie, Lisbeth's childhood unfolds on the line between two very different worlds. Growing up under the watchful eye of Mattie, the child adopts her surrogate mother's deep-seated faith in God, her love of music and black-eyed peas, and the tradition of hunting for yellow crocuses in the early days of spring.
Yet Lisbeth has freedoms and opportunities that Mattie does not have, though the color of the girl's skin cannot protect her from the societal expectations placed on women born to privilege. As Lisbeth grows up, she struggles to reconcile her love for her caregiver with her parent's expectations, a task made all the more difficult as she becomes increasingly aware of the ugly realities of the American slavery system. When the inequality of her two worlds comes to a head during an act of shocking brutality, Lisbeth realizes she must make a choice, one that will require every ounce of the courage she learned from her beloved Mattie. This compelling historical novel is a richly evocative tale of love and redemption set during one of the darkest
chapters of American history.

My thoughts: 
I was enthralled with this book...The prose is lyrical, the characters could have been stereotypical, but Ibrahim's deft handling of often painful subjects is skillful enough to avoid that pitfall.  The history is solid with an excellent portrayal of the heart-wrenching pain caused by family breakups when slaves were sold.  The scenes of the journey along the Underground Railroad are well drawn to remind us of the bravery of all those involved. The story draws us in, keeps us turning pages, until an ending that we could see coming, but nonetheless waited for. There is some adult material of a sexual nature, but today's mid-teens will be able to handle this one and love it.

Author: Laila Ibrahim
Publisher-Format: Flaming Chalice Press, e-galley , 238 pages
Year of publication: 2012
Subject: slavery, underground railroad
Setting: Virginia, 1850s
Genre: historical fiction
Source: e-galley from publisher via NetGalley


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