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When I purchased this novel back in June, I did so mostly because of the gorgeous cover. But while I can be shallow with book covers, I really did think the book sounded good.
Golden Poppies is an historical fiction based in the late 1800s during the times of segregation and women’s suffrage. The story switches from the point of view of Sadie, a white middle-class woman living in Oakland, CA, and Jordan, a black teacher in a much less progressive Chicago.
After learning that Jordan’s mother is ill, Sadie and her mother travel via train across the country for one final visit. Interestingly, this is the third in a series, preceded by Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed (which I have not read). These first two books go over the earlier lives and friendship of Lisbeth (Sadie’s mom) and Mattie (Jordan’s mom).
Author: Laila Ibrahim
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 281 (paperback)
Published: June 1st, 2020
Being that this is book 3 in a series, I actually found that it stood well on it’s own. The events within are pertinent to the present storyline and anything from the past was explained enough that I felt I wasn’t missing anything vital.
There are themes of civil rights and equality, such as the treatment of African Americans and a woman’s right to have a voice in politics. There was also a lot of discussion about lighter skinned African Americans being able to “pass as white” and therefore getting higher pay and better treatment.
Another major theme seen in this novel is the mother-daughter relationship. Jordan was close with her mama, Mattie, and likewise Jordan was also close with her daughter. Sadie and Lisbeth, however, had a very close bond. There were numerous points where I could feel their love and felt their fear of being separated and unable to be there for one another.
What I Liked
- The emotion. It’s raw and I cried, but it was real.
- The perseverance. This is something that literally every character had.
- Linear narrative. After reading and reviewing Station Eleven, my mind thanked me for this easy timeline.
- The mother-daughter bond. As both a daughter and a mother, these moments really touched me.
What I Didn’t Care For
- Sadie’s husband. That’s all I’ll say there.
- The historical accuracy. I still can’t wrap my brain around the fact that there was a time when inequality was so rampant. It certainly isn’t perfect now but things have come a long way.
I normally find that stories like this one are emotionally draining. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but there are some points of happiness. Ibrahim has a unique tone to her writing that I can’t quite place, but “serious” and “monotone” come to mind. However, I think this tone was well matched to the story and it came out beautifully.
Would I watch this movie? Probably not.
I give Golden Poppies 3 out of 5 stars.
Have you read any of Ibrahim’s work? Let me know your thoughts!