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About Laila Ibrahim
I continue to be surprised and grateful to be full time writer. When I finished Yellow Crocus agent after agent and editor after editor told me essentially, "Great writing, but nobody wants to read this story." At that time it was at once heartening and heartbreaking. The only reason I started writing was to get this story into the world! But I was glad to hear my writing wasn't horrific :) .
I was stunned when the writing bug bit me. The idea for Yellow Crocus was planted in 1998 when someone mentioned that Tiger Woods 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.
Living Right, my second novel, also popped into my head. I imagined a scene in hospital room with a young, Evangelical Christian confiding in his sister that he had attempted suicide because he could not live with the shame of telling his parents that he was gay. I wanted to know what happened to that young man and his family. I hope I've written an honest story with compassion.
Mustard Seed was a natural outgrowth of my interest in what happen to Lisbeth and Mattie after the war. I knew little about the reconstruction period, so it has been interesting--and painful--to learn about the laws and practices that were put in place by the owning class to continue to get low and reduced price labor.
My fourth jumped times and places again. This one starts in southern China in the Guangdong province and the city of Guangzhou--what Westerners called Canton. The main characters family has fallen onto hard time due to war and famine. They arrange a marriage for her to a young widow from California. She travels with him and her two-year old (step) son through Angel Island to the San Francisco Bay Area.
I just finished the third companion novel in the Yellow Crocus group. GOLDEN POPPIES took me between Chicago and Oakland in the late 1800's. It's been sweet to discover what happens to these character I love so much and a joy to research more about local Bay Area history.
My experiences and education in developmental psychology provided ample fodder for my stories. I've worked as a preschool teacher and director (Woolsey School!), a birth doula, and as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland.
I'm a devout Unitarian Universalist, determined to do my part to add a little more love and justice to our hurting world. My wonderful wife, Rinda, and I live in a small co-housing community in Berkeley, California with two other families. Our amazing young adult children, Kalin and Maya, are kind enough to text, FaceTime and call me on a regular basis. We are delighted to have our goddaughter Wynnie in our household too. I'm blessed to be working full time as a novelist and writer. I love calling/Skyping into bookclubs and classes if my schedule allows it. Feel free to get in touch to arrange via my website where you can also read the blog I wrote a few years ago: http://www.lailaibrahim.com
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The bestselling author of Yellow Crocus returns with a haunting and tender story of three women returning to the plantation they once called home.
Oberlin, Ohio, 1868. Lisbeth Johnson was born into privilege in the antebellum South. Jordan Freedman was born a slave to Mattie, Lisbeth’s beloved nurse. The women have an unlikely bond deeper than friendship. Three years after the Civil War, Lisbeth and Mattie are tending their homes and families while Jordan, an aspiring suffragette, teaches at an integrated school.
When Lisbeth discovers that her father is dying, she’s summoned back to the Virginia plantation where she grew up. There she must face the Confederate family she betrayed by marrying an abolitionist. Jordan and Mattie return to Fair Oaks, too, to save the family they left behind, who still toil in oppression. For Lisbeth, it’s a time for reconciliation. For Jordan and Mattie, it’s time for liberation.
As the Johnsons and Freedmans confront the injustice that binds them, as well as the bitterness and violence that seethes at its heart, the women must find the courage to free their families—and themselves—from the past.
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 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.
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.
From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.
Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.
On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.
Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?
In an early twentieth-century America roiling with racial injustice, class divides, and WWI, two women fight for their dreams in a galvanizing novel by the bestselling author of Golden Poppies.
1915. May and Naomi are extended family, their grandmothers’ lives inseparably entwined on a Virginia plantation in the volatile time leading up to the Civil War. For both women, the twentieth century promises social transformation and equal opportunity.
May, a young white woman, is on the brink of achieving the independent life she’s dreamed of since childhood. Naomi, a nurse, mother, and leader of the NAACP, has fulfilled her own dearest desire: buying a home for her family. But they both are about to learn that dreams can be destroyed in an instant. May’s future is upended, and she is forced to rely once again on her mother. Meanwhile, the white-majority neighborhood into which Naomi has moved is organizing against her while her sons are away fighting for their country.
In the tumult of a changing nation, these two women—whose grandmothers survived the Civil War—support each other’s quest for liberation and dignity. Both find the strength to confront injustice and the faith to thrive on their chosen paths.
«Mattie nunca fue del todo mía en realidad, y la conciencia de este hecho tenía que haberme colmado con la misma prontitud y certeza que la leche de sus senos. Pese a ser “posesión” de mi familia, pese a hallarse en el centro mismo de mi universo, sus afectos más profundos habitaban en otra parte. Por eso el consuelo de tenerla iba de la mano del miedo a perderla un día. La que sigue es nuestra historia».
En el instante de nacer, Lisbeth se ve apartada de su madre y queda a cargo de Mattie, una esclava a la que han separado de su propio hijo para que ejerza de ama de leche. Comienza así una relación intensa que conformará la vida de ambas durante décadas. Es Mattie, y no su familia, quien le enseña a disfrutar de las pequeñas cosas, quien le abre los ojos ante la injustica de la esclavitud, quien le enseña a amar incondicionalmente.
Pero ¿es posible que dos mujeres de origen tan dispar compartan semejante vínculo sin consecuencias? Este relato conmovedor de amor improbable sigue el viaje emprendido por cada una de ellas en busca de su propia libertad.
La continuación de la exitosa novela La flor del azafrán amarillo.
Tras haberse criado en un hogar privilegiado de Virginia, Lisbeth abandona a su familia, contraria al abolicionismo. Dieciocho años después y finalizada la Guerra de Secesión, la joven vuelve con los suyos para visitar a su padre enfermo. Allí se encontrará con su antigua y queridísima aya negra, Mattie, y su hija Jordan, nacida en esclavitud. Ellas también huyeron y han regresado al Sur para salvar a la única pariente que les queda allí, oprimida y consagrada a un trabajo extenuante.
Para Lisbeth es momento de reconciliación; para Jordan y Mattie, de liberación. Pronto se toparán con una cruel realidad, en la que perviven el racismo y la injusticia, auspiciados por el resentimiento de los terratenientes blancos. Las tres mujeres se verán obligadas a reunir el valor suficiente para liberar a sus familias —y a ellas mismas— del pasado. Así descubrirán que se hallan unidas por un vínculo más poderoso que la amistad.
Jenn Henderson is proud of the church-centered life she’s created for her family. She prays each morning, attends worship every Sunday, and confidently takes up the struggle to defend traditional marriage when she learns marriage licenses are being issued to gays and lesbians in nearby San Francisco. But the certainty that she is living right falters after her teenage son, Josh, swallows a bottle of sleeping pills. Her fear deepens when she discovers that Josh struggles with same-sex attraction. If she's living right, how can Josh be gay?
Desperate for a cure, Jenn and her husband send Josh to a Christian conversion therapy camp recommended by their trusted pastor. Jenn is unwavering in her faith that Josh can be transformed by the grace of God. But as the story unfolds, her husband, son, and daughters seem to be questioning her deepest values, threatening irreparable damage to the tight-knit Henderson family.
Author Laila Ibrahim tackles a subject directly out of the headlines in Living Right, an intimate story about a mother’s struggle to reconcile her religious beliefs with her son's sexual orientation. Living Right strips away the politics of gay rights to reveal what’s really at stake in this ongoing conflict: family. As with her debut novel, Yellow Crocus, Ibrahim's second novel explores an intimate and sensitive topic with insight and compassion.
Bestsellerautorin Laila Ibrahim beschreibt in der einfühlsamen Fortsetzung von »Gelber Krokus«, wie drei ungleiche Frauen auf eine Plantage in Virginia zurückkehren, wo einige Jahre nach dem Ende des Bürgerkriegs Freiheit ungeachtet der Hautfarbe noch immer eine Illusion ist.
Ohio, 1868: Lisbeths Vater liegt im Sterben. Um ihn noch einmal zu sehen, reist die junge Frau zur Plantage Fair Oaks, wo sie einst aufgewachsen ist. Doch in Virginia scheint die Zeit stehen geblieben. Ihre Familie glaubt immer noch an die Ideale der Südstaaten und kann ihr nicht verzeihen, dass sie sich den Werten des freien Nordens verschrieben hat.
Auch die entflohene Sklavin Mattie Freedman, einst Lisbeths geliebtes Kindermädchen, ist auf dem Weg nach Fair Oaks. Sie will eine Verwandte in den sicheren Norden bringen. Mattie reist nicht allein – ihre erwachsenen Kinder begleiten sie, beide studiert und gebildet. Doch sie sind machtlos gegen die willkürliche Gewalt, die ihnen entgegenschlägt, insbesondere von Lisbeths Bruder …
»Eine Handvoll Senfkörner« ist die Fortsetzung von »Gelber Krokus«. Die Bücher können unabhängig voneinander gelesen werden.
Das herzzerreißende Schicksal einer jungen Chinesin zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts – ein bewegender Roman von Bestsellerautorin Laila Ibrahim.
»Wir kennen nicht unser Schicksal. Es kann ein Abschied für immer sein, vielleicht auch nur für einige Jahre. Aber meine Liebe zu dir wird sich niemals ändern, egal wie lange und wie fern.«
Südchina, 1923. Eine arrangierte Ehe mit einem Witwer in Kalifornien ist für die junge Mei Ling die einzige Chance, bitterer Armut zu entkommen. Unter dem Namen seiner ersten Frau tritt sie die strapaziöse und oft demütigende Seereise an. Liebevoll kümmert sie sich dabei um das kleine Waisenmädchen Shiya. Doch endlich im chinesischen Viertel von San Francisco angekommen, erlebt Mei Ling eine herbe Enttäuschung. Ihr Mann Chinn Kai Li ist keineswegs ein Kaufmann, sondern nur ein mittelloser Hausdiener.
Schwanger, an einen fremden Mann gebunden und voller Heimweh ist Mei Ling der Verzweiflung nah. Aber ihr Zeichen ist der Drache, und der lässt keine Niederlage zu. Sie beginnt, um ihr Glück zu kämpfen – und um Shiya. Denn ohne ihre Hilfe erwartet die kleine Waise ein grausames Schicksal …
Nella Virginia delle grandi piantagioni e degli schiavi, la piccola Lisbeth Wainwright, primogenita di una ricca famiglia, è affidata fin dalla nascita alla balia Mattie, la schiava di colore costretta a separarsi dal figlioletto per accudire la neonata dei padroni. Tra le due si instaura un rapporto di grande affetto e complicità, che permette alla bambina di crescere nell’amore che i genitori non sono in grado di darle.
Mr. Wainwright è un padre insensibile e un convinto schiavista, Mrs. Ann è una madre fredda e attenta solo alle convenzioni sociali. Saranno Mattie e gli altri schiavi a colmare il vuoto affettivo della piccola Lisbeth, a mostrarle il vero valore delle cose e delle persone.
Mattie accompagna Lisbeth nella propria maturazione personale – da piccola di casa a giovane debuttante – e nella scoperta delle bellezze e dei dolori del mondo. Ma un legame talmente forte tra due realtà così diverse non sarà immune dai pericoli di un’epoca segnata dall’ingiustizia. Se Mattie dovrà affrontare fino in fondo la crudeltà dello schiavismo, Lisbeth imparerà a conoscere un senso della vita che le farà sfidare le convenzioni di quegli anni.
Il primo fiore di zafferano è la storia di queste due donne che sfidano il proprio tempo e lottano per la conquista della propria libertà e della dignità.
Tra l’Ohio e la Virginia, l’amicizia di Lisbeth e Mattie negli anni della guerra civile, al di là del colore della loro pelle
Lisbeth Johnson è “bianca”. È nata da una famiglia agiata del Sud, prima dello scoppio della guerra civile americana. Ha tradito la sua famiglia sposando un abolizionista e recandosi a vivere a Oberlin, in Ohio. La sua adorata balia, Mattie Freedman, è “negra”. È madre di Jordan, insegnante in una scuola della stessa città, dove la segregazione razziale è solo un lontano ricordo. La ragazza è un’aspirante suffragetta. Tra Lisbeth e Mattie c’è un rapporto profondo, superiore all’amicizia.
Tre anni dopo la fine della guerra, nel 1868, Lisbeth deve tornare nella piantagione della sua famiglia in Virginia, per dare l’ultimo addio al padre morente. Anche Jordan e Mattie sono partite per Fair Oaks: vogliono salvare una loro parente, che vive ancora in condizioni di sfruttamento.
Lisbeth affronta quei giorni come una riconciliazione. Jordan e Mattie li percepiscono come un momento di liberazione. Un’imprevista ingiustizia razziale riavvicinerà i Johnson e i Freedman. Le donne troveranno il coraggio di liberare le proprie famiglie dal pesante passato?