I finished an awesome series of books this month by Laila Ibrahim. They dealts with the topic of slavery and the injustices black people faced even after it was supposedly eradicated. The first two books were my favorite. I inhaled both of those stories. The third was okay, but not as good as the first two. But it tied up the history of the characters at least, so we could be done. I still highly recommend it. let’s start with the first book.
This is set in 1800’s in the south, before the Civil War. The two heroines are Mattie, a 20-year-old slave girl who is brought in, having to leave her own infant son, to become the wet nurse for Lizbeth, the newborn baby of the Master’s wife. The story follows their bond as Mattie basically raises Lizbeth to an age where Lizbeth begins to see the discrepancies in her own privileged life as the white girl of the Big house and the life of her black nurse and friend, Mattie, and Mattie’s son, Samuel, as he grows up without a mama. The story continues on to show Mattie’s struggle for freedom and Lizbeth’s struggle to come to terms with what is right and wrong as she balances between two worlds and peoples she loves.
This was a gripping story I couldn’t put down. It’s heartbreaking to see what people can do to other people, and how easily one can justify savagery against another human being. I highly recommend this read. It showed the horrors and brutality of slavery without making me cringe with vivid details. It also showed the opposing side with the Masters of the slaves and how they justified what they did. Everything about this story was captivating.
The second book was probably my absolute favorite. This one takes place about five years after the Civil War. Our two heroines from the first book, Mattie (colored) and Lizbeth (white) both return to Virginia for family matters. Lizbeth’s dad is dying, and her mother has asked her to return, something Lizbeth has always hoped for. A reconciliation. Mattie takes her children back to try to talk her niece Sarah into returning to Ohio with them, and leave the plantation where she still works. What both women and their children find is that the war might have been won by the North, but slavery still exists in the South. Former slaves now work as “hired hands” for the plantation owners, but they receive only housing and food in exchange for their work—same as under slavery. This was quite eye-opening in a sickening way. We learned that the Civil War ended slavery, but this book showed that it really didn’t. It would take much time and generations to end that culture of oppression (and it still isn’t quite there in many cases, I would say). Super intriguing look into white and black lives a few years after the Civil War.
This was my least favorite book, maybe because the MCs in the first 2 books aren’t the MCs in this one. It’s their posterity. It takes place in late 1800’s, and helped me see how racism continued to thrive and the many forms it took, many years after slavery had “ended.” The lives of the characters and their children and grandchildren is explored, with issues regarding the women’s suffrage movement in Oakland, California, the black laws that kept interracial couples from legally marrying, the abuses blacks received from the whites, keeping them in lower-paying jobs (Even when they were college-educated), and the never-ending fear blacks feel about their family members when they are out in the world, always wondering if they might not come back because of racism. The book ends on a melancholy note—not an unrealistic happily-ever-after. Very enlightening.
So there you have it. With everything happening with civil unrest today, these books opened my eyes to a side I’ve never understood. Very worthwhile, eye-opening books. Here is the link to the author’s Amazon page if you want to check out her books.