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Mustard Seed Paperback – November 7, 2017
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About the Author
Laila Ibrahim spent much of her career as a preschool director, a birth doula, and a religious educator. That work, coupled with her education in developmental psychology and attachment theory, provided ample fodder for the stories in Mustard Seed and Yellow Crocus.
She’s a devout Unitarian Universalist, determined to do her part to add a little more love and justice to our beautiful and painful world. She lives with her wonderful wife, Rinda, in a small cohousing community in Berkeley, California with two other families. Her amazing young adult children, Kalin and Maya, are kind enough to text, FaceTime, and call her on a regular basis.
Laila is blessed to be working full-time as a novelist. When she isn’t writing, she likes to walk with friends, do jigsaw puzzles, play games, work in the garden, travel, cook, and eat all kinds of delicious food.
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ALTERNATING FIRST PERSON, THIRD PERSON narration blends into an easy flow, keeping me present with the characters. I've rarely felt so much a part of folks like these and cheering for them, even praying for them. I know that sounds weird since they're fictitious; and if not fictional, they're no longer living. But yes, they are living in today's world and folks.
CARING ABOUT THE CHARACTERS. Jordan Freedman, 19 years old, is a teacher in a racially diverse one-room elementary school. Her family'a heritage is being slaves. You got to love her and sympathize with her devotion to her students: “God, help me to be a worthy guide for these hearts, souls, and minds. Amen.”
Lisbeth, 30-years-old, was born into the privileged class in the antebellum South fo slave-owners. Her beloved nurse from babyhood is Mattie, Jordan’s mother. All these women develop a bond deeper than just being friends. But that bond is tested when Lisbeth returns to her former home, a plantation in Virginia. There she faces smothering animosity from her Confederate family who feel she betrayed them by marrying an abolitionist.
TENSE AND TENDER PLOT. So too Jordan and her mother Mattie return to their former home. They want to save their family who still are being oppressed by their former owners and other whites. Will young Jordan and Mattie be able to bring some liberation for their beloved family? This is both a tense and tender novel as both families seek to come to terms with the past and free themselves from lingering hatred and present fractures.
The author writes from her in-depth research plus her own background as founder and director of Woolsey Children’s School. Both her heart and experience enrich this amazing story she shares. I’m sure this book's people will invade my emotions for many years to come, as it likely will yours. I look forward to reading more books by this very human and skilled author.
The ability to portray the life and injustices of the former slaves is something that did not go unnoticed and it is sure to stir up strong feelings in the reader. For this alone, I still highly recommend the book with the caveat that the reader reads Yellow Crocus first.
Elizabeth Johnson was born in the South on 'Fair Oaks' Plantation, Elizabeth is thirty years old. Elizabeth living with her abolitionist husband and her children in Ohio. Mattie Freedman was Elizabeth's Nurse Maid when Elizabeth was born on the Plantation. Jordan Freedman is Mattie's daughter, grown and teaching school.
The story reflects the heart breaks of the free slaves after the Civil War. The slaves could not find the members of their families. They didn't know their ages, had no last name and was sold from plantation to plantation.They were not allowed to learn to read or write. When give freedom it was a bittersweet gift, heartbreaking for each family.
This is an emotional and tender novel that captures the heart but is filled with love and faith. There were numerous characters, each having their own personalities and troubles to overcome. Mattie always had mustard seeds in her pocket for spreading more faith around. This author is a great storyteller as the chapters flow together to become a wonderful novel, a real page turner. I have learned more American History by reading this book.