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Freedman/Johnson #1

Yellow Crocus

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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.

253 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 17, 2010

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About the author

Laila Ibrahim

10 books1,905 followers
My education and experience in multiracial, developmental psychology and attachment theory provide ample fodder for my novels. My passion for early childhood education, child birth and religious education are reflected in my writing.

I was the founder and director of Woolsey Children's School where I had first hand experience loving children that were not my own. There are scenes in Yellow Crocus that were largely influenced interactions I had with children from Woolsey.

As a birth doula I had the privilege of witnessing the intensity and joy of childbirth. You can see that my birth experiences are reflected in my novels.

Spiritual themes that cross over multiple religious traditions come directly from working as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church in Oakland.

I live in a small co-housing community in Berkeley, California, with my wonderful wife, Rinda and our beloved dog, Hazel. Our young adult children are our pride and joy.

I'm very grateful to be a full time writer starting in 2015.

I was surprised when the writing bug bit me. The idea for the story came to me in 1998, I was with a group of people talking about Tiger Woods. Someone mentioned that he identifies as much as an Asian person as an African-American person. I thought to myself, "Of course he does, his mother is Asian. You form your core identity in relationship to your primary caregivers. It's a basic part of the attachment process."

Then the image of Lisbeth, a white baby, breastfeeding in the loving arms of Mattie, an enslaved wetnurse came to me in a flash. I thought about what it would be like for Lisbeth to dearly love Mattie and then be taught by society that she wasn't a full person. I wondered how it would feel for Mattie to be forced to abandon Samuel, her own child, in the slave Quarters. Then I imagined what the experience would be like for Miss Anne, the birth mother, to have her own child twist away from her to get into Mattie's arms. These characters started to haunt me. Various scenes popped into my head. Though I had never written anything, I was being called to tell this story. For my fortieth birthday, I began the personal marathon of writing my first novel. I hope you will come to love these characters as much as I have.

At face value Living Right seems like a big leap from Yellow Crocus, but it deals with the same themes: a caregiver loving across a huge societal barrier.

I LOVED returning to Mattie, Lisbeth and Jordan for Mustard Seed. The story of finding faith in hopeless times really resonates for me. I plan to return to their families' ongoing journey after I finish my current novel-Paper Wife.

Paper Wife focuses on Mei Ling, a young Chinese woman immigrating to San Francisco through Angel Island a in the early 1920's. Reactionary anti-immigration laws in the United States and warfare in China caused people desperate for survival to be misleading about their identities so they could be united with family and have access to work. Mei Ling yearns to have a life of integrity though it was built on a foundation of lies.

Golden Poppies returns to the Freedman and Johnson families. It was fascinating to bring them to California, to look at the suffrage movement, and to see how they could keep their connection strong in spite of the very different social worlds they occupied.

I'm feeling a tug to bring the descendants of these families to the 2000s. Scarlet Carnation gets us to World War 1. I'm just starting the World War 2 era novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,568 reviews
Profile Image for Kiessa.
281 reviews48 followers
June 20, 2012
I want to wrap my arms and legs around this book and hang onto it forever. With a depth and subtlety I'm sure I didn't even fully grasp during this first read, Yellow Crocus captured my attention and my emotions on every single page. I am hungry to pick it up and start all over again. Beautiful, warm, hopeful, and inspiring, this story unfolded so seamlessly I felt like I was living it. To finish the last page left me renewed and deeply satisfied. This is the kind of book that makes me glad to be a reader and studier of the richness of life as it is told in stories. This book is a must-read for any list.
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,284 reviews2,205 followers
January 29, 2016
When I read The Invention of Wings last year , it made me think about little I really knew about slavery in spite of having read books and seen movies depicting the despicable injustices and inhumane treatment that black slaves in this country were forced to live with . Once again, this time in Yellow Crocus, the author provides a story that showed me yet another heartache that a female slave on a southern plantation in 1837 was made to bear and my education continues.

I can't begin to explain how heartbreaking this story was for probably more than half of this book. I had a knot in my stomach and felt like I couldn't breathe at times. It was gut wrenching and not surprisingly so but that didn’t make it any easier. Mattie's heart was broken as she was separated from her mother at eight, when her mother was sold. Now, Mattie at 19 is forced to leave her 3 month old son and move to her master's house to be wet nurse and care giver for his newborn baby girl Elizabeth. She can see her son Samuel once a week and only allowed to watch him through a window .

In spite of this mother's heartache, Mattie not only gives Lisbeth her milk but she gives her genuine love and becomes for Lisbeth a guiding force that shapes the strong woman that Lisbeth becomes .

This is a short book and I'm not willing to tell more of the plot because you really should find out for yourself what a fine piece of writing this is .In spite of the atrocities, this small book is also full of the hope that the yellow crocus in early spring represents. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,398 reviews1,103 followers
March 6, 2021
This was a wonderfully written book! This book follows two characters, Mattie and Lisbeth, and is set in the mid-1800's in Virginia. Mattie is a slave woman for Lisbeth's family and is called in to be a wet nurse to young Elizabeth (Lisbeth). Forced to leave her own son just a few months old, Mattie is moved into the house and raises the young girl, almost as her own, for several years...

The first half of the book we gets the first several years from Mattie, but as the years wear on, it starts to shift to Lisbeth's. We get to see her turmoil as Mattie longs to be with her son and family but has also grown close to her young charge. All seems as ideal as it can be for a slave family for the first several yours but as Mattie's son grows older, problems arise.

We switch to Lisbeth as she begins o be taught about society, and her place in it. And the place of slaves, men, etc. When Mattie is no longer by her side she is forced to make her own decisions for good or bad. But what is that in the 1850's? How do you cope being divided by love from family?

I greatly appreciated the honesty the author brought forth. So many are afraid to speak or write the truth of how things were. While this book surely tones it down, it does note paint it pretty either. And the further into the book, the darker some of the subjects get. I hate when authors over sugar-coat the past. All men were NOT seen as equal then. and women were not to men. This portrays things relatively accurate. My feelings toward the characters were mild but consistently there. A light empathy.

This book hits some deep subjects. For those who get angry at the idea of slavery or past prejudice, do not read this. This refers to slaves as they were called in those days. This is not for the young readers, there is a rape scene,and whipping in this. For the mature reader this is a wonderful book for both history and the bonds of love, family, loyalty and friendship.

I received this book from Flaming Chalice Press in exchange for a fair and honest review. So special thanks to them! *No money or other exchanges involved*

2020- Touchy touchy subject these days. Touchy language. But I am glad the author kept to the truth of the matter. She didn't assume too much of how life was for everyone but enough that will make you think and wonder. Good and bad. It is sad to see how easily people just accepted things without question. The roles one plays in life. Turning a blind eye to what happens to those in the quarters. What is allowed. It is terrible. It even shows how some plantations were far worse than others. I felt more connected to the characters the second time. I even cried a bit at the end. But I did notice some bad formatting with the amazon download.
Profile Image for Suze.
411 reviews2 followers
September 13, 2014
Yellow Crocus received such overwhelmingly good reviews on Goodreads, and I like historical fiction, especially tales set in early America. For example, I loved The Kitchen House, which also dealt with pre-Civil War slavery. So I was really looking forward to reading this book. My expansive local library doesn't have it, so I put in an inter-library loan request and received the book from a library in Oklahoma. All good so far. Then I started reading. And, boy, was I disappointed. What could have been a powerful story was overly tidy and simplified. Sometimes the book skipped details that could have been important -- such as Elizabeth's mother's feelings for her daughter and how these feelings helped shape the girl, or how Elizabeth's father's beliefs influenced his treatment of slaves -- and other times it bogged down in details that added nothing. Apart from Mattie and Elizabeth, the characters were not adequately developed, and their motivations were unclear. The dialogue was inconsistent and sometimes pointless:
"...Next year I would like to have crocus blooming in our yard."
"That would be lovely," Matthew replied, smiling at his wife.
"Though the bulbs are quite expensive..."
"It is a luxury we can afford," he assured her.
"Thank you, Matthew," Lisbeth smiled back. "Can you believe we have lived here for nearly a year?"
"It has passed quickly."

And, while the author certainly doesn't paint slavery in a favorable light, the "fairy tale" ending wasn't believable. A really talented editor might have been able to salvage this book, refining the marginal writing and helping Yellow Crocus to become all it had the potential to be.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,097 followers
January 21, 2020
Yellow Crocus a novel by Laila Ibrahim. Bookclub read and the one will certainly make for a good discussion. I read this some years ago so knew I was in for a great good book second time around.

I am so glad I read this Novel as the saying goes “ Good goods come in small parcels”.

Yellow Crocus -is a flower that blooms in the most adverse conditions. What a great name for this Novel, makes you appreciate the thought the author put into this book.

This is a short novel and as I have been having a bad streak with books lately this was exactly the sort of book I had been searching for. I found the novel Yellow Crocus a very enjoyable book, no tricks or fireworks just a good story with a few historical facts to keep me interested.
I liked the simplicity of this novel, I believe it is the author's first book and I really look forward to future books. I sensed the author is passionate about her subject and she gets to the point and no waffling.

This book follows the relationship between an enslaved black women and a little white girl she is forced to care for. Mattie is taken from her baby son and must leave him in the care of others, and forced to become a wet nurse to Elizabeth who is the Master's first born daughter at the big house.

Yellow Crocus is story about love, relationships and slavery and how in history mankind are guilty of so much pain and suffering of, and it’s through books like this one we are reminded of these times and we do need reminding how cruel life has been in the past and sadly in present times also.

I really grew very quickly to love the characters in this novel they are well developed and the story is well constructed.

The ending of the Novel I did feel was a little contrived but did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the book.

If you liked the The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom The Kitchen House you may well will enjoy this Book.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,339 reviews1,630 followers
February 23, 2016
It's so interesting to me sometimes how my brain works. I've seen this book on Goodreads for a while now, and yet I never gave it any thought at all, never showed even the slightest spark of interest in looking to see what it was about because of the cover:

To me, that just about screams "Christian Romance". Ick.

But then I saw the Kindle edition cover when browsing the Kindle Unlimited options, and THAT one spoke to me and said that this book might be one that could interest me.

So I picked it up and read it. Well, to be fair, I half listened to it (because KU also includes audiobooks!) and half read it. I finished it in just a few hours, during a drive to my NJ Bookclub and back, and then at home after, and though it was a quick read... I'm just not sure what I really thought about it.

In a lot of ways, this was very similar to The Help. This was an impression that was very much helped along by the audio, which was read by Bahni Turpin who read both books. I happened to really enjoy The Help... but for some reason, this book just felt pretty unrealistic to me in a few key ways. And, you know, if I was fair, I would apply some of these same complaints to The Help... but life isn't fair, and neither am I.

See here's the thing, I know that The Help had flaws, but I enjoyed the story and the characters and the atmosphere and the feel of the story so much that I was able to just lose myself in the book and ignore them. And for me, that doesn't happen as often as I would like it to. I have this habit of not being able to turn off my inner critic sometimes. OK lots of the time. I'm the girl who will call out the illogical physics during a ghost fight on top of a moving vehicle that is in a book about trying to kill God during near death experiences. Just saying.
ANYWAY - so, when I can just enjoy a book and I DON'T get caught up in all the flaws and stuff that take me out of the moment, that makes me happy.

This book tried too hard to make me happy, and it ruined everything. OK, maybe not everything. I'm still giving it 3 stars, but... it's a generous three. Maybe 2 1/2 rounded up. OK probably 2.

You see, as much as I like being happy from the "I'm loving this book and I'm lost in the story and nothing else matters" feels... I'm not a happy ending fan. Sure, I might secretly hope for one... but if it's too contrived in order to have one, then I will resent it. And that's the main problem that I had with this book. It was just too contrived.

There will be spoilers. You've been warned.

We have Mattie, our slave new mother who was pulled away from her 3 month old son in order to nurse newborn Elizabeth. Excuse me, Miss Elizabeth. Mattie is heartbroken that she has to be away from her baby, but she comes to love Lisbeth, and the two form a bond over many years. Mattie suffers being away from her family and home, but Lisbeth, who of course is young and doesn't know any better than what her parents teach her, thinks that Mattie should be happy because her life is easier than it was as a field-hand. She's just ignorant, which is understandable.

Anyway... Years later, Mattie's son is sold to a nearby family, and he runs away with his father (who was on another nearby plantation). Mattie is "questioned" about it, by which I mean that they whip her in the hopes that she would spill their whereabouts. She doesn't, but she shortly finds out that she is pregnant... and at that point she decides that she will run too when she can. She decides to run a few months after her daughter is born.

So up until this point, the point of Mattie's run, I was digging the story. After this point, it started to just go south for me. Semi-pun intended. You see, it's SUPPOSED to seem as though it was a really harrowing and dangerous escape, but it wasn't. It was too easy and not well enough explained why. We're to understand that she was helped along by the Underground Railroad... But I wanted details as to how it was planned and such. It really just seemed like a series of convenient escapes. At one point she's spotted, and, with no explanation at all, suddenly had made herself sick with poisonous plants that she'd swallowed at some point in preparation for being stopped which she didn't know would happen? I dunno. She got out of that by puking all over the place though, so mission accomplished.

It was all kind of like that. We're supposed to interpret this as being a kind of luck-slash-resourceful-slash-determination thing, but it just seemed too contrived for me. It was too quick, too easy.

So, let's hop back over to Lisbeth, because for a while Mattie goes out of our story once she makes her destination. Lisbeth is now being groomed to be a Proper Southern Wife, blah blah blah. She goes along with everything because making a good match with a wealthy dude is much more important than happiness. Nevermind that the one decent guy she knows is pretty much mocked for being "almost an abolitionist!"

Well, mere days before her wedding, she spots future hubby raping a young slave girl. She freaks out (because, mind you, she's "innocent" and had no idea such a thing occurred), and future hubby was like "Don't sweat it, once we're hitched I won't stick it to anyone but you!" Mother and Daddy basically tell her to get over it, but she can't. She's haunted by the frightened eyes of the girl being raped. So, knowing that her life in the area is over if she breaks her engagement, she proposes to Mr. Almost An Abolitionist and asks him to take her with him when he moves (conveniently) away. They do this, she breaks off her previous engagement, everyone flips their shit, and then they move...

...To the exact town where Mattie ended up. Neither one of them knew that, of course. We're just supposed to believe that it was purely a coincidence that in ALL of the possible Northern locations they each could have chosen, they each chose the same one. Like fate or something.

And then of course when Lisbeth's pregnancy starts getting complicated, they bring in a midwife to assist, and you'll NEVER guess who it is. Never in a million bajillion trillion years.

It was MATTIE!

Look, I get that people want happy endings to slavery stories. They want the slaves to be freed, and for white people to have learned the error of their racist, shitty ways, and for there to be a happy-ever-after. But that's not really how it was. It wasn't a romanticized forced-but-fateful bond between a slave and her charge. It was just fucking slavery. It's not sweet, no matter how much sugar you pile onto the page.

There were bits that I liked, and as I said, I really enjoyed the first half. But the second half just felt so contrived to accomplish that happy-ever-after, that "growth" from Lisbeth, where she realized that slaves REALLY are people, too. I didn't feel like these characters were REAL... they were just vehicles for the plot and the lesson. And that spoiled the whole thing for me.
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
871 reviews1,760 followers
August 23, 2017
What could have been a beautiful story but turned into just a show of sugary affection because the author didn’t capture the relationship between master and the servant and the effect of slavery on it.

Yellow Crocus explores the relationship of Elizabeth, the white master, and Mattie, the black servant. When Elizabeth was born, she was handed to Mattie. It was Mattie’s job to see the needs of child, feeding and bathing etc. As the child grew up, the bond between these two also got stronger. Elizabeth’s parents sell Mattie’s son to a neighboring plantation. The child could not survive there and escapes, never to be found again. Mattie was questioned and beaten, and soon was relieved from the duties as Elizabeth’s nanny. She too soon fled to Ohio to be with her son and her husband. And years later, fate brought both these women together.

This story is so simple. With such high ratings I expected so much from this considering the subject matter of the story. While reading the book I never felt the “sufferings” of poor slaves. Mattie was quite liked in the white household and well taken care of. She can’t blame her masters for mistreating her or beating her. Had she been working in fields, perhaps it would have been a different story. Escaping was her own decision.

As for Elizabeth, she was deeply attached to Mattie but she soon forgot about her once she started going to classes which groomed her in how to be a perfect lady and dance practices. Soon the only motive of her life was to be married off to a rich heir and be an heiress. She seemed so flimsy. One minute she wanted to be a heiress, the next she just ran away from everything. It never got well with me.

Both characters had no emotion that touched me. They felt flat and one dimensional to me. Moreover, the story didn’t do justice to the slavery in 1800s. for most part, it seemed like they were living like one big happy family. And perhaps that’s what author wanted to show in this story but it didn’t go well for me. When I think of slavery, I think of brutality, gore, selfishness, cruelty, helplessness, dejection, anger, but I didn’t get any of that here.

It just didn’t work for me.
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,094 reviews2,663 followers
June 10, 2019
Mattie’s son Samuel was just three months old when Mattie became wet nurse to Elizabeth, brand new daughter at the big house. It was the 1800s and slavery was part of life. Mattie and her family knew no other way; she had last seen her mother when she’d been sold - her sister Rebecca, husband Emmanuel, son Samuel and Poppy were her family.

As Lisbeth grew, her love and devotion to Mattie strengthened. She would visit Mattie’s family at the slave’s quarters each week, becoming close to them all. But Lisbeth’s parents only tolerated her affection to Mattie and it wasn’t long before circumstances changed and the harshness of life as a slave showed its true form. Freedom seemed a long way off…

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim is an exceptional read. The yellow crocus – a little flower - would show its head at the beginning of spring. It became a symbol of hope to the families. Mattie is a wonderful character, as is Lisbeth and I found myself cheering them on while being disgusted at the prejudices and automatic “ownership” that threaded through the book. I have no hesitation in recommending this debut novel highly.
Profile Image for Karen.J..
209 reviews178 followers
September 28, 2020
I was not expecting “Yellow Crocus” by Laila Ibrahim to be such a fantastic read. This book has been on my shelf for a few years now. Just shows how quickly we can pass by a jewel. I am now started reading “Mustard Seed” by Laila Ibrahim which is a sequel to “Yellow Crocus”.
Profile Image for Libby.
581 reviews157 followers
February 14, 2019
4.5 stars rounded up. ‘Yellow Crocus’ was a wonderful surprise of gifted storytelling by Laila Ibrahim. Richly detailed with lush, living, characters, I was immersed in the culture and times of mid-1800s Virginia. An interesting time to be sure, but horrific in its enslavement of African Americans. Born into slavery, Mattie, twenty years old, is a field hand, until the birth of her son, Samuel. Then, because Mrs. Wainwright has just had a baby girl, Mattie is taken from her own child to be a wet nurse to the little white baby girl, Elisabeth. Although Mattie is heartbroken at not being able to be with her own child, she develops a bond with baby Lisbeth. Ibrahim’s attention to the details of childbirth and nursing children is enhanced by her experience as a birth doula as she states on her GR’s author page. Ibrahim’s story is about the bond that grows between this little white baby and her enslaved nurse; it feels tender and true. As an RN who worked in a newborn nursery for over twenty years, I attended many deliveries, so I appreciated the warmth and attention Ibrahim brought to this part of the story. My favorite part of my duties as a nursery nurse was after the hubbub of the delivery had died down and everyone had left except the parents, and I helped the infant attach to his / her mother’s breast for the first time. I could almost always feel it; the bond of attachment taking shape and growing.

This story will follow Lisbeth through her growing up years and her training as a genteel Southern lady. She is taught that women mind the home and that men are in charge and not to interfere with the decisions a man makes. The man is in charge of the slaves and the woman has little to no input. Mother tells her that the slaves are like children and that the system is for their own protection. Lisbeth’s love for Mattie, her nurse, causes her to question the way things are. When something happens that rocks Lisbeth's world, which point of view will predict her future? That of her parents, or that of her experience in life? That of her deepest bond?

Bahni Turpin narrates this audiobook, and she is magnificent. I was spellbound by her voice. An actress, born in Pontiac, Michigan, I was astonished by her intonation of a rich southern accent and the way she differentiates the characters by voice. Turpin enveloped me in the mellifluous atmosphere of southern life; the hard places of that life alive and aware within the marvelous richness of her silky voice.

Each year, Mattie and Lisbeth would search for the first sign of spring, a yellow crocus. They would celebrate by having a picnic. Celebrating new life, new beginnings, and the love that holds everything together, Laila Ibrahim, has created a wonderful story that I’m sure I will listen to again. There’s a treasure trove inside, not locked away, a story of profound and deep love. Come, and read it.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,732 reviews14.1k followers
March 27, 2012
This is a book that I had never heard of, but really deserves more recognition. Set on the Tidewater plantation in Virginia, before the Civil War, it follows Mattie who is a slave and wet nurse and Elizabeth, the newborn daughter of the plantation. Wonderfully written, with many poignant moments, this novel is a brilliant read of time and place. I am so glad I was not born in that time, a time when women were told want to think, talk about, existed only to please a man and make an advantageous marriage. They were taught not to question anything. So glad Elizabeth didn't follow thus path.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,271 reviews555 followers
December 5, 2014
This book had the bones of an excellent story, but the way the personalities were expressed, the language of the people, the mood of the setting- all together it just didn't mesh for me. Nor for slavery times under these conditions. It seems a kind of fairy tale, almost like a Hansel and Gretel level aspect of nasty downside and not that era's reality of nasty. Those women, but especially Mattie, just ran flat. It isn't that she couldn't have loved Elizabeth or vice-versa, it was just the thought patterns and understandings between them weren't of the period in their types of acknowledgments. It was far more the tone of 1930-1960's, rather than that of 1830's-1860's.

But that was not the only issue in the writing for me. It was far, far too simplistic to the context of everyday life for all of the characters. The birth scenes were written as for a children's story. And the other characters beyond the two main protagonists and their husbands, characters like Mrs. Ann or the doctor, or Elizabeth's grandmother- were basically cut out stereotypes. The intrinsic conflict Mattie would have had was far deeper and more unsurmountable than this book shows. IMHO, that's my opinion. I know others enjoyed it far more and the characters seemed to work as real for them. Not for me, because fear of reprisals weren't part of parcel of this story, nor of Mattie's self-identity. And I'm almost sure that would have been.

Profile Image for Carole.
314 reviews38 followers
August 31, 2014
Wow! Another favorite to add to my top all time best! I've had this book in my list of samples for nearly a year. I remembered I read the first chapter about a young, slave who was required to leave her own baby to nurse the newborn girl of the Mistress in the big house. The relationship between Mattie & Lisbeth is so full of love, I couldn't help but adore them. I read this in just 2 days, which is fast for me. I didn't want it to end, I absolutely loved it so!! If you liked The Help The Kitchen House, Redfield Farm, or Mudbound, you will certainly want to read this spectacular book. It is hard to believe this is the author's debut novel. She writes with such tenderness, compassion & insight. I hope she continues to share her gift with her fans! I wish I could give more than 5 stars!!
Profile Image for Lucia Nieto Navarro .
738 reviews160 followers
August 19, 2022
Novela ambientada en el siglo XIX en EEUU, que cuenta la relación entra una esclava y una niña blanca, hija de sus dueños. Cuenta la unión de estas, y como cambio la vida de ambas por completo aun siendo tan diferentes.
A través de Elizabeth, la niña blanca y de Mattie la esclava negra la cual es separada de su hijo para ser su ama de cría, vamos a conocer la sociedad de ese momento, la esclavitud, el racismo...
Una novela que sin entrar demasiado en detalle, sin descripciones vamos a ir conociendo lo que significa no tener derechos, libertad, el que te traten de inferior, el cómo y por qué vendían a los esclavos, la diferencia de clases..
Es verdad que se centra muy poco en ciertos personajes que me hubiera gustado que tratase más , pero una historia bonita, emotiva y que se lee en un suspiro.
El final, queda bastante cerrado, aunque hay una segunda parte, e intuyo que se centrará más en personajes, y en acontecimientos históricos de esa época.
Un libro cortito, ágil, que te va dejar un mensaje detrás de todo, y es que luches por lo que quieres, por tu sueños, cueste lo que cueste. Ahora toca leer su segunda parte "Un granito de arena" para cerrar la historia.
Profile Image for Ruth Turner.
408 reviews112 followers
August 1, 2015

This is the wonderful, heart-wrenching, but also heart-warming story of the relationship between a young white girl and her slave nanny.

Beautifully written and simply told. I finished it in one sitting.
Profile Image for Gina *loves sunshine*.
1,883 reviews69 followers
April 16, 2017
This was a very well written book - definitely grabs you and weaves a haunting story of life on the plantation. I highly recommend this if you enjoyed other popular stories about this era, and books that focus on relationships between slaves and their owners!

I'll give it an honest 3.5 stars. I kind of feel bad....as if that doesn't do it justice. It is just a reflection of my feelings and emotions about the book. It was VERY engaging, I just did not enjoy the content and connections with the characters. It starts out building the relationship between Elizabeth, a newborn and Mattie - her wet nurse. For me it was a bit awkward since the first 20% is basically Mattie's care for Elizabeth through breast feeding. I honestly just got tired of the 50 ways to describe latch on. And then in her next few years of being a toddler, again I couldn't get on board with the behavior from her Grandmother and Mother. I realize this is the reality of the era - but it grated on my nerves!!! I won't really reveal too much more - I just found myself not looking forward to what was happening!! I definitely feel like the minority in this though!!!
Profile Image for Stacey.
874 reviews161 followers
December 31, 2018
I really enjoyed this piece of historical fiction. It has been on my tbr for a long time and then I recently read a review that the audio was good. I listened to it and it was great.
Profile Image for Pink.
537 reviews498 followers
August 6, 2015
I completely used this book. I picked it solely because it fitted my A-Z challenge for a book starting with the letter Y. Then I noticed it was available on kindle unlimited, so I signed up for a month's free trial, read the book and cancelled my subscription.

Mind you, I feel this book does a fair amount of using itself. It certainly falls into that territory of playing with your heartstrings, making you feel good about humanity and giving you a happy ever after. Was it realistic? No. Did it have a touch of white saviour about it? Yes. Did it delve into the deeply troubled history of slavery? Not really. Any book that is about slavery and leaves you with a feel good ending, has somewhere missed the point for me.

However...did I enjoy it? Yep. I read it in just a few hours, quickly turning the pages and really wanting to find out what was going to happen to the two main characters. Just after half way through the story seemed to take a turn. We stopped reading about Mattie (the black slave character) and were left solely to continue with Elizabeth's story (the young white daughter of a slave owner). I was still invested in the story, but it became kind of obvious, as it succumbed to historical fiction slave story tropes. I still liked the book, it was a good, quick read, but if I give the story further analysis I start to find it problematic. Only you know if this is the sort of thing that bothers you or not.

A generous 3 stars.
Profile Image for Melanie.
273 reviews132 followers
September 3, 2022
I read this for my book club. It is so good! This book made me angry and sad but it was also very touching. I am very tempted to search out the other 2 installments and find out what else happens to these characters.
Profile Image for Krissy .
87 reviews
September 12, 2014
This was rehashed drivel about a slave owning white girl made into a hero for recognizing the basic humanity of the enslaved people around her.

I'm over it.
Profile Image for Kerrin .
293 reviews230 followers
June 5, 2020
Yellow Crocus (Yellow Crocus #1) by Laila Ibrahim starts with Mattie, a field slave, being forced to leave her infant son to be the wet nurse for newly born Lisbeth Wainwright. Lisbeth is born into wealth on the Tidewater Plantation in Virginia in 1834. I have very mixed feelings about this book. The writing was at times endearing and poignant, but at other times it was simplistic and prosaic.

Currently, America is in the midst of protests that were started after the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Mr. Floyd, a black man, died when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. Because of this environment, I wanted to read a book that might give me a better insight into the beginnings of racial inequality. Without understanding the past, it is difficult to grapple with the present. Unfortunately, Yellow Crocus does not have the depth of other novels, such as The Invention of Wings or The Good Lord Bird, to make the reader deeply feel the emotions of that time.

The friendship and enduring love between Mattie and Lisbeth were very sweet. The novel focuses on Lisbeth’s personal life instead of what was going on around her. There were lengthy conversations about which fabric and pattern were best to make a ball gown and the social etiquette requirements of a young lady. I found these to be boring.

There was some discussion of how the owners believed their slaves were less than human. It did not even occur to many of them that slaves had emotions or even felt real pain. There is one scene where Lisbeth sees a white man raping a slave. Every person Lisbeth told, dismissed it as no big deal. The story would have been so much better if more time had been spent on the serious issue of slavery.

Profile Image for Lois .
1,754 reviews466 followers
April 25, 2017
At first the main character seemed to be Mattie, an enslaved person on the Fair Oaks plantation. We find out that Mattie's family has been enslaved on the Fair Oaks plantation since 1705 when the law changed regarding West African Indentured Servants. Her ancestor was mere months from completing his term of Indentured Servitude. Mattie has an infant son, Samuel and a husband, Emmanuel who lives on another plantation and visits. Mattie has been chosen to come from the fields to wet nurse the new baby at the Big House. That baby is Elizabeth/Lisbeth.
This novel is well researched but clearly written for the white gaze and to lessen white guilt and culpability, especially that of white women. The enslaved narrative of Mattie isn't that brutal (she's owned by 'good white folks' and at first doesn't even want to be free) and as a result isn't a realistic storyline for that time period. Mattie isn't even a fully fleshed out character. She exists purely so Lisbeth can grow as a character. Using an enslaved character to elevate a white slave owner character's narrative is nauseating, insulting and frankly racist. This is a perpetuation of what chattel slavery already was, using black labor to benefit white people.
Eventually Mattie's story is dropped entirely in favor of a white slave owning girl growing up to realize with horror that slavery isn't best for the 'negroes'. A term I don't believe was in popular use in the 1800's by slave owners. They referred to enslaved persons as niggers or nigras. I think the author doesn't wish to use that term, which is why the author should be writing about another time period. Also no whippings/beatings on a plantation of that size in the mid 1840-50's is unrealistic with historical records. This is post Nat Turner's rebellion. White Slave owners kept slaves in line with threats and regular shows of unspeakable violence. That was stepped up post Nat Turner's rebellion.
Threats of violence and use of excessive force is how less than 10 white people were safe admist hundreds of oppressed enslaved person's. They used violence to insight fear and horror. Otherwise slavery, segregation, oppression doesn't work. This entire premise is ridiculous and NOT at all historically accurate.
Again, every attempt is made to make Lisbeth's family cluelessly cruel while still presenting them as basically good, God-fearing folks who don't understand slavery is evil. Power corrupts and the unlimited power that whites were able to exercise during this time period lead to massive abuses. Slavery simply didn't function as portrayed in this idealized version for the purposes of this novel. As the descendant of enslaved West Africans I'm offended at this portrayal.
There's no exploration on the part of Lisbeth's character of the fact that she oppressed her beloved Mattie. That she is in fact a slave owner. Instead this seems to feed into the bad white man narrative with no acknowledgement that white women are every bit as evil and oppressive as white men. They don't get a pass cause they were 'practically' property themselves. Bullshit, white women raped slaves, beat them, tortured children and were slave owners. They are responsible for their actions and complicit in what happened.
My assumption is that the author is white and this book is to lessen white guilt and white culpability for the peculiar institution.
I'm not interested in a lessening of white guilt at the expense of the full picture of slavery being told. Valerie Martin handles this perfectly in 'Property'. If a white author isn't prepared to take it to that level, they should focus on a different period in history.
I give this a reluctant 1.5 stars. Mostly for presenting white abolitionists as the racists they were. Matthew refers to blacks as 'lesser races'. Most abolitionists did not consider blacks equal to whites. Also most abolitionists were equally abolitionists because owning people was bad for white people, especially Christians as concerns over the treatment of black folks. Read some abolitionist writings. Today we would consider them racist. Which means they were racist then as well. It's ironic but unsurprising given the pervasiveness of racism and antiblackness.

The author apparently is a 'multicultural developmental psychologist'. That's what developed her outlook.
Downgraded to a single star.
White liberals are amongst the worst at casual racism and this book is chock full of it.
Profile Image for Jessica.
84 reviews
March 22, 2013
This book was strange. The first 20% of it was breastfeeding scenes. Not an exaggeration. Finding out the author is a doula was not particularly surprising. The book also suffers from White Savior Syndrome. The narrative is solid, but lacks depth. Overall, a half-decent quick read for fans of historical fiction.
Profile Image for Sharon Metcalf.
734 reviews162 followers
February 16, 2020
First up thanks to Celia for suggesting Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim for our most recent Buddy Read. As always it was a pleasure discussing our thoughts on this book.

Yellow Crocus, set in 1837 Virginia, opens with twenty year old field slave Mattie's world being turned upside down. Stoically kissing her 3 month old son goodbye, not knowing how long she'll be gone, Mattie is accepting of her fate. Her mistress is about to deliver her first child and Mattie will assume the role of wetnurse to the newborn. Ultimately this meant moving away from her family and into the big house where she remained for years as Lisbeth's maid. Mattie and Lisbeth shared a closeness that Lisbeth never felt with her own mother and this somehow shaped the woman she was to become.

At different times this book brought to mind other books I've enjoyed. The Invention of Wings for the close relationship between slave and owner which sparked a flame for change and Chariot on the Mountain for its depiction of the Underground Railroad.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the way both Mattie and Lisbeth, at different times, decided to risk their lives to seek their freedom. Mattie from slavery by making her way to Ohio to be reunited with husband and son. Lisbeth from the constraints of polite society when she found she could no longer go along with the pretence that slavery was beneficial to the Negroes. Both required extraordinary courage to execute their plans. Their actions made me stop and think about the behaviours displayed and questioned how I would have behaved had I'd been raised in those days. Would I have had the strength of conviction to defy tradition and reject slavery? Maybe. Or would I have been persuaded by my elders that

" The world is not always kind, but every person has their place in it. Edward has his place, and the young slave has hers. You have yours. We may not choose our place, we may not enjoy it, but we must accept it.”

My inclination was to be judgemental and to dislike the white slave owners. However I gradually came to realise that my frame of reference is so entirely different from the norms of the day that I needed to take that into consideration. This passage between teenaged Lisbeth and a friend about contemporary author Jane Austen caught my attention. I realised I could have said exactly the same of Ibrahim's portrait of 19th Century Virginia.

“I find her portrait of British society so accurate, and yet so dreadful.”
“I agree. It must be awful to be so bound by what society expects,” Lisbeth answered. “I am so glad to have been born in America, where one has freedom.”

A great book and very thought provoking buddy read.
Profile Image for Shannon.
121 reviews101 followers
January 22, 2016
The description of this books sounds so captivating. Unfortunately, I had problems with it from the beginning. The dialect wasn’t quite right and even when present it didn’t feel authentic. The story didn’t feel like it was written of that time, which is partially attributable to verbiage that is from today. I had come to this conclusion even before one character used the words “laugh out loud” to describe her amusement.

Major spoilers follow!

There is a particularly fascinating series of events in which Mattie (a slave) takes her child and runs away from the plantation. After Mattie reunites with her husband and son, the author writes, “She had done it. They got away. And now they were together.” This happened often, a tendency to state the obvious, and in a mundane way.

In the second half of the book, Lisabeth (the daughter of Mattie's owners) and Mattie’s stories diverge but only Lisabeth’s story is told. The synopsis is misleading in this regard. Nearly the entire second half of the book is about Lisabeth and her road to becoming an abolitionist.

There were some parts of the book that I enjoyed. Unlike everything I've read where it's impossible to empathize with slave owners, Lisabeth's internal conflict was critical to the story and I felt for the child. I do believe that the premise for the book was good. But with so many things working against the story, it was a challenge for me to like it.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,104 reviews90 followers
May 8, 2016
I listened to this as an audio book and truly enjoyed the voices of the reader. This is a beautifully narrated book about the bond between Lizbeth and Mattie. Mattie, forced to leave her own young son to become the wet nurse to the newly born Lizbeth, grows to care deeply for Lizbeth. Allowed only to visit her own son on a weekly basis for a few hours, it is Lizbeth she cares for daily. For Lizbeth it is to Mattie she turns to for comfort and care, spending little time with her mother or father. In many ways it is Mattie who shapes Lizbeth into the woman she becomes. But despite their closeness, Mattie is a slave and she and her family are at the mercy of the Master who owns them. Mattie's husband who lives on another plantation, yearns for freedom. As Lizbeth grows into a young debutante, her concerns become more focused on dances and young men. But the lessons Mattie taught her, and the kindness shown to her by Mattie's family, remain in Lizbeth's heart. This is a beautiful, personal story of the horrors of slavery and the misconceptions of those who exploited them. Yet, underneath it is a story of love.
Profile Image for  ⊱ Sonja ⊰ ❤️.
2,266 reviews405 followers
January 5, 2018
Am 14. April 1837 wird Elizabeth Ann Waynwright geboren. Sie kommt direkt zu einer Amme: Mattie. Mattie ist 20 Jahre alt, schwarz und Sklavin. Mattie muss ihren eigenen Sohn Samuel, der gerade mal drei Monate alt ist, vernachlässigen, um sich um das Baby ihrer Herrschaft zu kümmern und es zu stillen. Schnell baut sich zwischen Mattie und Lisbeth eine starke Bindung auf, die über die Jahre hinweg bestehen bleiben wird.

Mein Leseeindruck:

Dieses Buch wollte ich lesen, weil ich "Vom Winde verweht" sehr gerne mag und in diese Zeit zurückkehren wollte. Die Geschichte von "Gelber Krokus" ist natürlich ganz anders als "Vom Winde verweht", trotzdem hatte ich viel Freude an diesem Buch.

Die Geschichte von Mattie und Lisbeth hat mich berühren können und ich habe die beiden sehr gerne begleitet. Im Buch begleiten wir diese beiden außergewöhnlichen Frauen über 20 Jahre lang. Es war für mich sehr interessant, ihre Entwicklung mitzuverfolgen.
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