22 March 2012

The story of Mattie and Lisbeth, not just another slavery novel

In Yellow Crocus author Laila Ibrahim tells a great story.  I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. The story revolves around two characters, Mattie a slave and wet nurse on a Southern Plantation, and Lisbeth, the white daughter of the plantation owner who Mattie is wet nurse to. At first glance it seems that Mattie is the central character and that this is yet another book about the lives of Southern slaves. As the reader progresses, though, you find that the book is as much about Lisbeth and the lives of the daughters of the white plantation owners. That is actually a good thing as there are many books out there about the lives of slaves and I have read several that I felt were more compelling in that respect. It is the inter-twining of the lives of Lisbeth and Mattie that make this story what it is and that captured and kept my interest. At times I found myself cheering for Mattie and Lisbeth, crying over their troubles, appalled by the behavior of some of the characters that their lives intersected with, and impressed by the behavior of others. At one point I was apprehensive that the author was going to try to tie up the book too neatly, but her ending was both poignant and appropriate. 

As I read this book, the thought kept occurring to me that this would be a great book for Middle and High School girls. I am not sure if that is what the author intended, but her thoughtful portrayal of both Mattie, and particularly, Lisbeth makes it perfect for young girls who want to explore this area of fiction. In addition, though, I would recommend it to my adult friends who I believe would gain from the relationship between Lisbeth and Mattie and the viewpoint of slavery through the eyes of a woman who grew up in the privileged South. 

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