Despite having my first copy eaten by the dog, I managed to read both my birthday books within 10 days of receiving them. Yay me!
Yellow Crocus is Laila Ibrahim’s debut novel, set in the early 1800s it follows the life of Elizabeth Wainwright and her mammy, Mattie, who is forced to leave her own infant son to take care of Elizabeth.
As a consequence of being essentially raised by Mattie, Elizabeth doesn’t quite buy into slavery in the way expected of her, and it is just one seed sown in her heart that makes it hard for her to fit in to her southern belle life.
As Elisabeth enters adulthood and stands on the brink of life changes, Mattie’s encouragement to follow her own path rings in Elizabeth’s ear, and she must make hard choices about her future.
Yellow Crocus was a good book with an engaging storyline. It was a heartfelt story of a girl and her mammy, and the hard choices both must make for themselves.
That said, it was also very clear that this was Ibrahim’s first book (rich coming from someone who isn’t too keen on sharing her own work with others, I know). The dialogue was stiff and unauthentic. For example, most people use contractions (don’t, won’t, can’t), and even if adults spoke properly, a 4-year-old would not be speaking complete and flawless sentences without contractions. And of course because I’ve been looking at dialogue for a few weeks, that was the first thing that jumped out at me. But it also felt like moments of tension and climax were rushed through. I wanted Ibrahim to paint a picture of the turmoil the women felt at different times, or maybe allow a monologue to speak to the wrestling back and forth over decisions.
Overall, however, I think it was a good book, and a good first novel. I think that, if Ibrahim wanted to, she could continue writing historical, multicultural fiction, and be very successful at it.