Golden Poppies
From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed comes the empowering novel of two generations of American women connected by the past and fighting for a brighter future. It’s 1894. Jordan Wallace and Sadie Wagoner appear to have little in common. Jordan, a middle-aged black teacher, lives in segregated Chicago. Two thousand miles away, Sadie, the white wife of an ambitious German businessman, lives in more tolerant Oakland, California. But years ago, their families intertwined on a plantation in Virginia. There, Jordan’s and Sadie’s mothers developed a bond stronger than blood, despite the fact that one was enslaved and the other was the privileged daughter of the plantation’s owner.With Jordan’s mother on her deathbed, Sadie leaves her disapproving husband to make the arduous train journey with her mother to Chicago. But the reunion between two families is soon fraught with personal and political challenges.As the harsh realities of racial divides and the injustices of the Gilded Age conspire to hold them back, the women find they need each other more than ever. Their courage, their loyalty, and the ties that bind their families will be tested. Amid the tumult of a quickly changing nation, their destiny depends on what they’re willing to risk for liberation.

Golden Poppies Details

TitleGolden Poppies
Author
ReleaseJun 1st, 2020
PublisherBrilliance Audio
ISBN-139781799755432
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

Golden Poppies Review

  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    The ties that bind.Golden Poppies lays out a patchwork quilt of different interlocking pieces that tell the story of the human experience. While the colors and patterns seem to compete for a dominance hierarchy, truth be told, one patch is no less valuable than the next in the scheme of things. Each patch gets ruffled in the winds of time. Each patch fades out over that same stretch of time exposed to all things that eventually erode the precious threads that hold us in place.It's April of 1894 The ties that bind.Golden Poppies lays out a patchwork quilt of different interlocking pieces that tell the story of the human experience. While the colors and patterns seem to compete for a dominance hierarchy, truth be told, one patch is no less valuable than the next in the scheme of things. Each patch gets ruffled in the winds of time. Each patch fades out over that same stretch of time exposed to all things that eventually erode the precious threads that hold us in place.It's April of 1894 in Chicago as Jordan Wallace sits at the bedside of her dying mother, Mattie. A similar quilt covers her tiny figure worn by age and by the harshness of her life. Jordan's daughter, Naomi, is a trained nurse who hovers to the side. Nothing prepares you for "the letting go".On the west coast in California, Lisbeth Johnson and her daughter, Sadie Wagoner, are boarding a Pullman train that will take them to Chicago and to that room where Mattie lays on her death bed. There's a history here between these two families. Mattie served as a wet nurse and slave on Fair Oaks Plantation where Lisbeth was raised with luxury. But there is a bond here that transcends circumstances, place, and time. Jordan and Naomi will eventually move to Sacramento where their life stories will intertwine once again.I was not aware that this is the third book in this series. It does read as a standalone. I've already ordered the first two books. Laila Ibrahim takes us deeply into this storyline with America's leaning towards industrialization, urbanization, and creativity through invention. We'll experience the signposts of the quests for civil rights, the pursuit of women's suffrage, the eradication of child labor, the non-acceptance of domestic violence, and the freedoms of acceptance and the fulfillment of life to its fullest by all. Some attained. Some so terribly lacking even now.Golden Poppies reads as fiction laced with familiar and unfamiliar names throughout this time in history. It makes me think of that quilt, once again, all sewn together in appealing sections on the front. But if you turn it gently to the backside, there's tangled threads and knotted pieces reflecting the setbacks, the struggles, and the successes and failures that occur as one generation either rises upward from the previous generation or sets it on the road to ruination. Only time will tell.I received a copy of Golden Poppies through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Lake Union Publishers and to Laila Ibrahim for the opportunity.
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  • Kristie
    January 1, 1970
    These books are not listed as a series because they can stand alone, but this is the third book about Lisbeth and Mattie. You really should read them all. It's so worth it. The books are excellent and you get to know the history of the characters. Yellow Crocus - Lisbeth is born into privilege and Mattie is her enslaved wet nurseMustard Seed - 1868, continues Lisbeth & Mattie's storiesGolden Poppies - 1894, the story continues with Lisbeth & Mattie's children These books are not listed as a series because they can stand alone, but this is the third book about Lisbeth and Mattie. You really should read them all. It's so worth it. The books are excellent and you get to know the history of the characters. Yellow Crocus - Lisbeth is born into privilege and Mattie is her enslaved wet nurseMustard Seed - 1868, continues Lisbeth & Mattie's storiesGolden Poppies - 1894, the story continues with Lisbeth & Mattie's children
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  • Chelsie
    January 1, 1970
    Such an amazing novel, and series! The Golden Poppies is the third in the Lizabeth and Mattie series. If you have not read Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed you need to purchase and read them immediately before reading The Golden Poppies. This series has followed and white woman and her family, as well as a black female and her life on the plantation, then as an escaped slave.The two families have undoubtably always been there for the other, no matter the skin color and no questions asked. Often th Such an amazing novel, and series! The Golden Poppies is the third in the Lizabeth and Mattie series. If you have not read Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed you need to purchase and read them immediately before reading The Golden Poppies. This series has followed and white woman and her family, as well as a black female and her life on the plantation, then as an escaped slave.The two families have undoubtably always been there for the other, no matter the skin color and no questions asked. Often they are questioned on their trust in the other, as the US is still in turmoil over slavery and women gaining rights and starting to speak up and out for themselves.Lizabeth had moved out west to California and had not seen Mattie in years, them still being in Chicago. But one day a black negro male knocks on her door summoning her back to the east, with no time to spare. Lizabeth doesn't think twice and heads back as soon as she can, with her daughter Sadie in tow.Mattie and Lizabeth act as if a day has not passed since they last saw each other, although time is of the essence currently. Meanwhile, Jordan, daughter of Mattie and Sadie tiptoe around the other not quite understanding their mothers devotion towards each other. Each clearly understands the color of the other's skin.Sadie's husband was not very approving of her going with her mother in the first place, and now it has been longer than just a week or so and as they attempt to return some of the railroad goes on strike, and trains are not moving in or out. This delays them even further, however this delay may just turn into a godsend, as Jordan decides to make the leap and head West as well.There are promises of less racism and worry of the color of skin, but Jordan is still hesitant and not too trusting. She will believe it when she sees it, as her past and her mother's past has proven you cannot trust anyone. California does seem different, but the true colors of some still show through.Once again, both families need the other at some point to help and protect the other and soon Jordan and Sadie learn and come to understand their mothers friendship and devotion to the other. It is heartfelt and it really does not matter what color their skin is in Lizabeth's eyes, as the families are more connected than they know.Thank you so graciously to the author, Laila Ibrahim for putting these stories to paper so I can journey them as well. I just love living with Lizabeth, Mattie, Jordan and Sadie during these times. I will cherish the autographed arc. I cannot say Thank You enough and I will eagerly be awaiting the next chapter in their lives.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Her books are so easy to read, thorough enjoyment.
  • Lucy
    January 1, 1970
    Once I started I couldn’t put this book down. I’ve truly enjoyed following the lives of Mattie and Lisbeth and all the families. Heartbreak, love, sadness, and hope for a better tomorrow. I can’t wait for the next journey to come.
  • JenV
    January 1, 1970
    This book was an Amazon First Reads selection. I was drawn in by the beautiful cover and the historical fiction genre. I did not realize it was part of a series of 3. I read the first 2 books before reading this one. For me, this was the weakest book of the 3. I enjoyed the storylines in the first 2 books despite the somewhat amateur writing style. However, the storyline of this book felt much too contrived. I got bored with the parts about suffrage that came across more like a history lesson.
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  • ʚϊɞ Shelley ʚϊɞ
    January 1, 1970
    The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Golden Poppies is a great example of what I wish all historical fiction could be. Far too often I'll start reading something that makes it clear that the author thought all you needed to do was state the year, add some period clothes to your characters and there you have historical fiction. You don't, and the num The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Golden Poppies is a great example of what I wish all historical fiction could be. Far too often I'll start reading something that makes it clear that the author thought all you needed to do was state the year, add some period clothes to your characters and there you have historical fiction. You don't, and the number of terrible books that have appeared in the genre in recent years has practically ruined historical fiction for me until one like this comes along. I would have enjoyed the book just as much if it were not based on real life. The story is beautiful and heart-grabbing without pulling cheap punches like unnecessarily schmaltzy situations or dialogue. This is book three of the Yellow Crocus series and I highly recommend that you read the other two books first. This book would read well as a stand alone BUT you're really missing out if you skip the other two. And while I know it has nothing to do with the words that are inside, I like the cover art. I m glad the publisher decided to put a flower on the front of this as they did with the first book.Thank you NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Laila Ibrahim for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.#GoldenPoppies #NetGalley
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  • Pat Erkers
    January 1, 1970
    EXCELLENTSuch an incredible book! I loved the way it was written with truth of a very troubled time. Kudos to you for your talent and making me feel like I was right there with all the characters. Nicely done, a must read!!!?
  • Deb Darling
    January 1, 1970
    Great historical fiction depicting the plight of blacks and women in the 1800's post civil war. I found it interesting that recent television coverage of Black Lives Matter included a discussion of the work of Ida B Wells for both black rights and women's suffrage, and that she brought to light the acts of lynching by whites of black Americans, and she is a mentor of one of this books protagonists. It is incredibly sad how while we had a black president, our culture is still so racist.
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  • Cari
    January 1, 1970
    *Golden Poppies was my Kindle First Read selection for the month of May, 2020*This was a lovely book that depicted a chapter of American History of which I'm not very familiar: the mid-1890s. More specifically, the main historical topic featured was segregation and the continued plight of African-Americans in the decades following their emancipation. A couple other historical events featured include a bit about women's suffrage efforts and the nationwide Pullman railroad strike of 1894; however, *Golden Poppies was my Kindle First Read selection for the month of May, 2020*This was a lovely book that depicted a chapter of American History of which I'm not very familiar: the mid-1890s. More specifically, the main historical topic featured was segregation and the continued plight of African-Americans in the decades following their emancipation. A couple other historical events featured include a bit about women's suffrage efforts and the nationwide Pullman railroad strike of 1894; however, I'd say those were just little side stories compared to the focus on racial inequality within the society of that time, and how in some special cases, love and devotion were still able to transcend race, despite the hate and bigotry. I'll explain further in a brief synopsis, in case that last sentence doesn't quite make sense... The book begins with Mattie, an elderly black woman on her death bed, talking about how badly she wishes she could see her dear Lisbeth again... Her daughter Jordan knows that Lisbeth is the white girl (now a middle aged woman) whose father owned their family when they were enslaved before the war. Mattie's family reaches out to Lisbeth, asking her to please come and see their beloved matriarch one last time and Lisbeth and her daughter Sadie come to Chicago to do just that. Although Sadie and Jordan both grew up knowing about their mothers' friendship and unconditional love for one another (and are thereby unsurprised by their closeness) they have very different views of the world in general, especially when it comes to the existence of racial prejudice and hate crimes. After Mattie's death, Jordan and her family decide to leave segregated Chicago and move to Oakland, California near Sadie and Lisbeth. Although Jordan is pleasantly surprised by the progressiveness of their new (integrated) hometown, both families quickly learn that there is still a lot of progress to be made in the fight for race and gender equality--a fight they can all make together. This was a very moving story with strong, admirable female characters that I enjoyed immensely. I didnt know until after I read the book that this was a sort of continuation of these characters' stories from the author's previous books, Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed, which I intend to read too (of course).
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  • Patricia J. Roberts
    January 1, 1970
    Wait!Wait! The story isn’t finished! Please say you have the next book ready to publish! I feel as if you’ve left us hanging!
  • Betty Stevens
    January 1, 1970
    Third in the seriesBut believe we should have stopped with 2. This did not hold my attention as the preceding 2 related books, Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seeds. The Orange Poppies were not significant and although true struggles for characters, I did not care about them as in the 2 previously mentions volumes.
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  • Jamie Jack
    January 1, 1970
    This is the first book I have read by this author, and my goodness, what an incredibly beautiful and well-written novel. From the first pages, I was pulled right into the story and the lives of the four women that it covers. There's something so poignant about a book that starts with death. How can you not be drawn in and not care about the people who will be impacted by it? The author’s style is immersive; we feel like we are living the story along with the characters.We are immediately caught This is the first book I have read by this author, and my goodness, what an incredibly beautiful and well-written novel. From the first pages, I was pulled right into the story and the lives of the four women that it covers. There's something so poignant about a book that starts with death. How can you not be drawn in and not care about the people who will be impacted by it? The author’s style is immersive; we feel like we are living the story along with the characters.We are immediately caught up in this world that compares and contrasts the lives of a black mother and daughter and a white mother and daughter. The families’ connection has existed for decades, since before the Civil War when the black family were slaves of the white family. But the web of relationships for those who were a part of that terrible institution is complex and deeply meaningful to each person in those generations beyond what that original relationship was. The younger generation has a hard time understanding how it can be so, but the author shows us with a light yet poignant touch.This book shows us the history of the times as it is lived through the lives of these women. We get a sense of what the Gilded Age meant for both white and black people. We see the suffragist movement through those twin lenses as well. The strained race relations after the Civil War are deftly but delicately explored. I always enjoy historical fiction, where we see how what happened during a tempestuous time affects the lives of characters (especially ones like these who seem so real). This was done so well here. I actually lived just south of Oakland for 10 years, so it was interesting to see it as it may have been over a hundred years ago.This is such a beautifully well-drawn story. I will have to go back and look at the other two books in this series, but this book certainly stands on its own and can be read without having read the other two books. If you enjoy historical women's fiction with well-drawn characters and intense intergenerational relationships, you may very well enjoy this book as much as I did.My book blog: https://www.readingfanaticreviews.com
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    I read Laila Ibrahim's 'Yellow Crocus' several years ago and found it really enjoyable. When I spotted that one of this month's Amazon Prime First Reads was another of her books, I grabbed it without hesitation. When I realised it was a continuation of the 'Yellow Crocus' characters, I was even happier with my choice - although I have to admit I did read the whole thing without realising I'd missed the volume that goes between 'Yellow Crocus' and 'Golden Poppies'. The great thing is that I didn' I read Laila Ibrahim's 'Yellow Crocus' several years ago and found it really enjoyable. When I spotted that one of this month's Amazon Prime First Reads was another of her books, I grabbed it without hesitation. When I realised it was a continuation of the 'Yellow Crocus' characters, I was even happier with my choice - although I have to admit I did read the whole thing without realising I'd missed the volume that goes between 'Yellow Crocus' and 'Golden Poppies'. The great thing is that I didn't need to have read 'Mustard Seed' (the middle book) or to have any detailed memory of 'Yellow Crocus' in order to enjoy this one.If you ask me "Can I read this without reading the others?" I'd say you can, but you might get a bit more context if you've read at least one of the previous books.In 'Yellow Crocus' Ibrahim took on the issues of slavery and the ownership and abuse of other human beings. Time has passed and 'Golden Poppies' is set in the late 1800s, at a time when slavery is no more, but prejudice is still rife. It focuses on the cross-racial relationships and friendships of the two families descended from Mattie the black slave-woman who was wet nurse to Lisbeth, the slave-owner's daughter. Younger generations come to the fore in this book and themes include the campaign for women's rights, and the campaign to prevent the lynching of black men. We're also introduced to wage inequality between the races, 'passing off', and domestic abuse between experienced by the characters. As a Brit reading about the campaign for Universal Sufferage in the USA, I'm at a disadvantage because the historical characters are not so familiar to me as they would be if the book were set in my home country. I may, therefore, miss some of the significance of the famous characters introduced, but that didn't stop my enjoyment. I really like Laila Ibrahim's style of writing and her willingness to take on controversial story-lines and put her characters through the wringer in sometimes extreme ways. I now REALLY need to go back and read Mustard Seed.
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  • Amy GB
    January 1, 1970
    Well-drawn intersectional historical charactersThese characters, although numerous enough to be confusing (family tree is helpful), are all interesting and detailed. I knew I cared about them all by the time they were on the train back from Chicago (about a third of the way through the book). The main theme is of slow and mixed progress on both racial and gender fronts, and is really compelling. The historical setting (USA, 1890s) is really detailed, and also lends itself to thinking about how t Well-drawn intersectional historical charactersThese characters, although numerous enough to be confusing (family tree is helpful), are all interesting and detailed. I knew I cared about them all by the time they were on the train back from Chicago (about a third of the way through the book). The main theme is of slow and mixed progress on both racial and gender fronts, and is really compelling. The historical setting (USA, 1890s) is really detailed, and also lends itself to thinking about how the same issues play out today. The style was little schmaltzy for me, but sometimes gorgeously detailed ("she kissed the sweet space between [her baby's] ear and her shoulder"), and the plot was really compelling.Content warnings for sexual assault and domestic violence.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed reading this engaging book. To see the history of this 1890’s was great, especially viewing that history through the lenses of women of different races, ages and life experiences. That it was set in part in Oakland—my home—made it especially meaningful.This is the third in a series of books about two intertwined families—one black and one white, starting before the Civil War. I haven’t read the first two books yet and I was pleased that Golden Poppies tells a story that stands o I really enjoyed reading this engaging book. To see the history of this 1890’s was great, especially viewing that history through the lenses of women of different races, ages and life experiences. That it was set in part in Oakland—my home—made it especially meaningful.This is the third in a series of books about two intertwined families—one black and one white, starting before the Civil War. I haven’t read the first two books yet and I was pleased that Golden Poppies tells a story that stands on its own! And it made me want to read the earlier books in this series, too.
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  • Mrs. Moira McGeough
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book, it was so well written with characters I could really invest in. The story follows two families, one white and one black, through the generations the bond between them remaining strong. Reading it made me realize how ignorant I am about certain periods in American History, something I intend to rectify. I also intend to read the earlier books in the series to get a proper handle on the back story of both families.
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  • Loree
    January 1, 1970
    Third book of the trilogy did not disappoint. There were still tough topics brought up, and unresolved, true to history and that is unsettling. But the writing and the characters of the book are not diminished by the subject matter. Their non-traditional family bonds grow tighter. Jordan still has mixed emotions when it comes to Lisbeth and family, a lack of trust that rings honest. The sense of history repeating itself is softened by the fact that the families continue to take care of one anoth Third book of the trilogy did not disappoint. There were still tough topics brought up, and unresolved, true to history and that is unsettling. But the writing and the characters of the book are not diminished by the subject matter. Their non-traditional family bonds grow tighter. Jordan still has mixed emotions when it comes to Lisbeth and family, a lack of trust that rings honest. The sense of history repeating itself is softened by the fact that the families continue to take care of one another and the bonds grow stronger. If a fourth book came into this series I would definitely read it.
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  • Julie Farrer
    January 1, 1970
    Wow!!Fascinating and compelling story. I was sucked into the novel immediately and I felt connected to the characters. This is outside my usual genre and I'm so glad I choose this as my Amazon First Reads for May.
  • Mel
    January 1, 1970
    Another great book in this trilogy. I loved reading about the two families and hope there will be another book about them.
  • Jan Crossen
    January 1, 1970
    WOW! Another outstanding adventure written by Laila Ibrahim about strong women, their fierce determination, and steadfast love. It was wonderful to spend time once again with characters who feel like old friends. This is the third book in the series but can also work as a stand alone novel. Ms Ibrahim is an outstanding story teller. If you enjoy historical fiction about relevant topics then you will enjoy her books.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Brilliantly WrittenWONDERFUL story!! I liked it most because i learned so much. Thank you for all your research. I felt my heart wrench for them at the compromise that was needed to achieve something for some instead of losing it all. And the battle still rages.
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  • Paula Artz
    January 1, 1970
    ExcellentThought provoking and incredibly well written. The book pulls you into the lives of the characters, and the time of the story.
  • kathy may
    January 1, 1970
    GreatI enjoy historic fiction and this one did not disappoint me. The author wove the characters and story lines together perfectly
  • Gwen
    January 1, 1970
    BE SURE TO READ ALL OF HER BOOKS. OUTSTANDING
  • Sheila
    January 1, 1970
    It’s 1894. Jordan Wallace and Sadie Wagner appear to have little in common. Jordan, a middle-aged black teacher, lives in segregated Chicago. Two thousand miles away, Sadie, the white wife of an ambitious German businessman, lives in more tolerant Oakland, California. But years ago, their families intertwined on a plantation in Virginia. There, Jordan’s and Sadie’s mothers developed a bond stronger than blood, despite the fact that one was enslaved and the other was the privileged daughter of th It’s 1894. Jordan Wallace and Sadie Wagner appear to have little in common. Jordan, a middle-aged black teacher, lives in segregated Chicago. Two thousand miles away, Sadie, the white wife of an ambitious German businessman, lives in more tolerant Oakland, California. But years ago, their families intertwined on a plantation in Virginia. There, Jordan’s and Sadie’s mothers developed a bond stronger than blood, despite the fact that one was enslaved and the other was the privileged daughter of the plantation’s owner.With Jordan’s mother on her deathbed, Sadie leaves her disapproving husband to make the arduous train journey with her mother to Chicago. But the reunion between two families is soon fraught with personal and political challenges.As the harsh realities of racial divides and the injustices of the Gilded Age conspire to hold them back, the women find they need each other more than ever. Their courage, their loyalty, and the ties that bind their families will be tested. Amid the tumult of a quickly changing nation, their destiny depends on what they’re willing to risk for liberation.
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  • Emily.Stopergmail.Com
    January 1, 1970
    Laila Ibrahim displays in her fifth novel the same talent for telling a good story with moving characters that she showed in her earlier works. Golden Poppies is a sequel to Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed, extending the stories of Mattie and Lisbeth and their descendants. It is the 1890s and they have all moved to Oakland, California, a very different setting from Virginia and Ohio where they lived earlier. The linked but contrasting fortunes of the Black and white characters are shown with grea Laila Ibrahim displays in her fifth novel the same talent for telling a good story with moving characters that she showed in her earlier works. Golden Poppies is a sequel to Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed, extending the stories of Mattie and Lisbeth and their descendants. It is the 1890s and they have all moved to Oakland, California, a very different setting from Virginia and Ohio where they lived earlier. The linked but contrasting fortunes of the Black and white characters are shown with great sensitivity. The characters’ private lives (birth, death and marriage) are movingly portrayed, always with an awareness of the historical context. Issues such as the dangers of passing for white, the different impact of labor unions on blacks and whites, the subtle and blatant insults faced by Blacks, and the complexity of Black women’s involvement in the women’s suffrage movement are all dealt with in ways that will surprise many readers. Both teenagers and adults will enjoy this book.
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  • Tammy Kirby
    January 1, 1970
    I gave it a good college try because it was free on First Reads. I just couldn't get into it and quit reading about 1/3 through it.
  • Anita
    January 1, 1970
    A compelling & believable historical novel of family, race and ethnic relationships told from the viewpoints of two women, one white, one black and the lasting bond that developed before the Civil War on a Southern plantation between their mothers, a white child and her slave nurse. Against the backdrop of Oakland in the 1890's, the women's suffrage movement, & the racial tensions of Post Civil War America, the two women experience deep changes, one learning about her own strength and the other A compelling & believable historical novel of family, race and ethnic relationships told from the viewpoints of two women, one white, one black and the lasting bond that developed before the Civil War on a Southern plantation between their mothers, a white child and her slave nurse. Against the backdrop of Oakland in the 1890's, the women's suffrage movement, & the racial tensions of Post Civil War America, the two women experience deep changes, one learning about her own strength and the other accepting that she cannot control the lives of her children. A great book about motherhood.
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  • Shariki
    January 1, 1970
    I'm so happy, I didn't realize that this book was being written in the first place! I loved Mustard Seed and Yellow Crocus, so I immediately freaked out when I found this on my Amazon FirstReads list! This was definitely a great read, and I was really happy to get an update on all of the characters from the Freedman and Johnson families in the late nineteenth century. I love learning about the 1890's, so it was especially fun to delve more into this time period. As a California native, it was al I'm so happy, I didn't realize that this book was being written in the first place! I loved Mustard Seed and Yellow Crocus, so I immediately freaked out when I found this on my Amazon FirstReads list! This was definitely a great read, and I was really happy to get an update on all of the characters from the Freedman and Johnson families in the late nineteenth century. I love learning about the 1890's, so it was especially fun to delve more into this time period. As a California native, it was also nice to read about Oakland's origins. I will say, when I started this book I found it a little unbelievable/upsetting that (view spoiler)[ almost all of the male characters from the last book were dead. Mattie's husband makes sense since he was already pretty elderly, but it just seemed a little too convenient to me that Jordan's husband (who we never meet), Elizabeth's husband Matthew and her brother were also dead by the time the book starts. I don't know why that bothered me, but it was a little contrived. (hide spoiler)] There was also a LOT going on at times- there were SO many characters mentioned that I got a little confused, and I've already read both books so I knew the entire backstory! I am glad that there was a family tree for me to reference. I know that Jordan's personality was always a little extra, but she irritated me at times in this book. She seemed very guarded and closed minded, especially after everything that she experienced in Mustard Seed. I do think that her stubbornness fit the character very well. It was sad but realistic that she lost a lot of her idealism through the years; and her character definitely improved once she regains some of her spark and joins the suffrage movement later in the book. (view spoiler)[ I was initially worried that they were going to sanitize the women's suffrage movement, so I'm glad that the racism in the movement was acknowledged and not glossed over. (hide spoiler)] It was also great to hear Sadie's voice for the first time! She was definitely the sweet girl that I remember from Mustard Seed, although she grew up to be a little more naive and sheltered. Her newfound privilege made sense to me, since she was pretty far removed from the horrors that Lisbeth and the Johnsons witnessed/experienced. (view spoiler)[ I was sad and upset on Sadie's behalf that she chose to marry Heinrich, who had no redeeming qualities whatsoever and got even worse as the book went on. I'm really glad that she got her independence at the end. (hide spoiler)]I enjoyed learning about the Pullman strike (which I knew absolutely nothing about) and the early women's suffrage movement in California. I think most of the books I've read in this time period have been set on the East Coast, so it was nice to experience a setting that was newer and less established. I'd definitely recommend reading Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed first to have a better understanding of the characters and families involved. It's not 100% necessary (I read Mustard Seed before Yellow Crocus), but I think knowing the entire journey makes this story richer and more enjoyable. Overall, this was a great read, and I can't wait to read what happens next in the Mattie/Lisbeth/Jordan/Sadie family saga!
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