Review: Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

yellow-crocus“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.” – Publisher Summary 

In 1837, three-month-old Samuel is torn away from his mother’s breast as she is sent from the field-slave quarters to the Big House to serve as a wet nurse for the Master’s newborn daughter, Elizabeth. Mattie is devastated at leaving her beloved Samuel behind and resentful of the baby Elizabeth, but soon grows to love the innocent baby girl. Thus begins a lifelong love story between a woman born to slavery and a girl born to great wealth.

For the first half of this tale, we are given the story from Mattie’s side of things. We watch Mattie’s turmoil at leaving her infant son and family tempered by the love that blossoms within her for her young charge, whom she nicknames Lisbeth. Mattie’s life in the Big House passes smoothly over the years, until Lisbeth’s young brother is born and she is sent back to the fields.

As the years wear on the focus of the story begins to shift toward Lisbeth. Now an adolescent, she is learning about society and her place within it, without Mattie by her side for the first time. As she matures, Lisbeth is also faced with the task of how to justify the institution of slavery with the love she holds for Mattie and her family. In the end, Lisbeth learns that often the greatest social change comes from the most personal acts of love.

Yellow Crocus: A Novel by Laila Ibrahim is a novel about love, loss, and the nature of relationships when one person is there by choice and the other by force. The relationship between child and “Mammy” is a difficult one, to be sure. Ibrahim covers the institution of slavery well enough, not necessarily thoroughly, but not sugar-coating it, either. She did fit in some interesting historical facts about slavery and it’s beginnings in America, as well. Yellow Crocus was a quick, enjoyable read that will please many who are interested in this area of the Historical Fiction genre.

Yellow Crocus: A Novel by Laila Ibrahim. Read it today!

3.5 stars

Source: Lake Union Publishing {via NetGalley}



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