Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

Moments after Lisbeth is born, she’s taken from her mother and handed over to an enslaved wet nurse, Mattie, a young mother separated from her own infant son in order to care for her tiny charge. Thus begins an intense relationship that will shape both of their lives for decades to come. Though Lisbeth leads a life of privilege, she finds nothing but loneliness in the company of her overwhelmed mother and her distant, slave-owning father. As she grows older, Mattie becomes more like family to Lisbeth than her own kin and the girl’s visits to the slaves’ quarters—and their lively and loving community—bring them closer together than ever. But can two women in such disparate circumstances form a bond like theirs without consequence? This deeply moving tale of unlikely love traces the journey of these very different women as each searches for freedom and dignity.

Revised edition: This edition of Yellow Crocus includes editorial revisions.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I didn't put this one down until the end. As a mother, this story was heart wrenching. As a reader, I enjoyed the deeply emotional story line.

Lisbeth is the privileged daughter of a rich slave owner. Mattie is the slave assigned to be her wet nurse. Mattie's own baby was taken from her in order for her to nurse Lisbeth. This is their story through Lisbeth's life. Mattie has to overcome so much emotional turmoil in order to survive. As Lisbeth grows older, she becomes more aware of the injustices happening around her and has to make some tough decisions to be true to herself.

This book, though written for younger readers, was a nice change in routine for me. It was kept in a youthful tone, but stayed realistic and certainly was entertaining. I highly recommend this one to the younger and older alike.

Laila Ibrahim grew up in Whittier, California on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, and moved to Oakland, California to attend Mills College where she studied Psychology and Child Development. After getting a Master's Degree in Human Development, she realized she wanted to do more hands on work with children, and opened up her own preschool: Woolsey Children's School. Her education and experiences as a teacher provided ample fodder for Mattie and Lisbeth's story – especially her study of Attachment Theory and multiculturalism.

She identifies as a devout Unitarian Universalist – which is sort of like being a radical moderate – and works part-time as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland.  She lives in Berkeley with her wife, Rinda, who is a public school administrator. Their wonderful young adult daughter lives with them when they are not away at college along with their two mini-Aussies who are wonderful too, except when they bark at strangers.

Laila self-published Yellow Crocus in 2011 after agents repetitively told her that no one would want to read a story about the love between an enslaved black woman and her privileged white charge. Over the years she has proven those agents wrong as Yellow Crocus has been gaining recognition across the digital spectrum after Amazon and Kindle approached her about buying the rights in order to get her work into the hands of more readers who would find it compelling.

She is currently hard at work on her next novel – a story set in a more modern time (2004), but with a similar theme: loving across difference.

Connect with Laila

Facebook  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

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Jacki reviewed her personal copy of Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim for this post.

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