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Freedman/Johnson Books In Order

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Publication Order of Freedman/Johnson Books

Yellow Crocus (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mustard Seed (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Golden Poppies (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
Scarlet Carnation (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
Falling Wisteria (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Freedman/Johnson (Series by Laila Ibrahim)
Author Laila Ibrahim writes the “Freedman/Johnson” series of historical novels. The series began publication in the year 2011, when “Yellow Crocus” was released.

Laila self-published “Yellow Crocus” after various agents told her numerous times that nobody would want to read something about the love between a privileged white girl and an enslaved black woman. Over the years since, her readers have proven them wrong.

She first thought of her characters for the novel at the age of 33. She held off from writing the book for seven years because she didn’t believe she was a writer in any shape or form, and calls it her ‘Jonah’ moment. She is so glad that this story waited for her to tell it. She believes that she was into writing the third book when she really started to feel like she was actually a writer as opposed to just someone that wrote a novel.

The year was 1998 when she got the idea. Laila was with a group who mentioned Tiger Woods identified just as much as an Asian person as he does an African American. She soon began imagining select characters and they haunted her, with scenes actually coming to mind. Even though she had never written anything before then, she was being called on to tell this story. She began the personal marathon of writing her first novel, for her fortieth birthday. So in 2005, she started to write it.

By 2008, she had a solid draft to hand out by 2008. She had a few nibbles from agents however had no takers. She got a referral to an editor by an agent, and sent the manuscript to them. This editor said there was a lot wrong with it and that Laila would need to completely restructure it through an email.

He teared up when he read the ending to her. Once he finished he asked if that’s as good as it got for her characters. She nodded and knew that she had the obligation and bravery to self publish. She knew the book wasn’t perfect, however it was good enough to move this guy to tears.

Laila thinks that one reason the book didn’t attract an agent is that it focuses on a strange relationship in fiction. Many of the agents or publishers she talked with told her it’s a tale that has been told time and again, yet when pressed couldn’t name anything besides “Gone With the Wind”.

“Yellow Crocus” is the first novel in the “Freedman/Johnson” series and was released in the year 2011. Moments after Lisbeth is born, she is taken away from her mom and handed right to Mattie, who is an enslaved wet nurse and a young mother that was separated from her own infant child to care for her tiny charge. It starts an intense relationship which will shape their lives for decades to follow.

Despite the fact that Lisbeth leads a life of privilege, she just finds loneliness in the company of her overwhelmed mom and slave owning and distant dad. Mattie, as Lisbeth gets older, gets to be like Lisbeth’s family than her actual family and the girl’s visits out to the slaves’ quarters, and their lively and loving community, bring both of them closer together.

But can these two women in such disparate situations form a bond like they’ve got without any consequence? This deeply moving tale of unlikely love traces the journey of these two incredibly different women as each one looks for freedom and dignity.

“Mustard Seed” is the second novel in the “Freedman/Johnson” series and was released in the year 2017. Oberlin, Ohio in the year 1868. Lisbeth Johnson was born into privilege down in the antebellum South. Jordan Freedman was born a slave to Mattie, who is Lisbeth’s beloved nurse. These women forged an unlikely bond which runs much deeper than just friendship. Mattie and Lisbeth, some three years after the end of the Civil War, tend to their homes and families while Jordan, who is an aspiring suffragette, teaches in an integrated school.

Lisbeth finds out that her dad’s dying, and is summoned back to the Virginia plantation they grew up on. She has to face the Confederate family she betrayed when she married an abolitionist. Jordan and Mattie head back to Fair Oaks, as well, so they can save any family they left behind, and that still toil in oppression. For Mattie and Jordan it is liberation time, meanwhile for Lisbeth, it is a time of reconciliation.

As the Johnsons and Freedmans confront all the injustices that bind them both, along with the bitterness and violence which seethes at its heart, the women must dig deep to find the bravery to free each of their families, as well as themselves, from the past.

“Golden Poppies” is the third novel in the “Freedman/Johnson” series and was released in the year 2020. 1894. Jordan Wallace and Sadie Wagner don’t appear to have much in common with one another. Jordan is a middle aged back teacher who lives in segregated Chicago. About two thousand miles away, Sadie (white wife of an ambitious German businessman) lives in a much more tolerant Oakland.

But years before, their families were each intertwined on a plantation in Virginia. While here, Jordan’s and Sadie’s mothers each forged a bond with each other stronger than blood, despite one of them being enslaved and the other being the privileged daughter of the plantation’s owner.

Sadie, with Jordan’s mother on her deathbed, leaves her disapproving husband so that she can make the rigorous journey by train with her mother to Chicago. But the reunion between both families is soon fraught with personal and political challenges.

As the harsh realities of racial divides and some of the injustices of the Gilded Age conspire to hold both of them back, the women discover that they need each other even more than before. Their bravery, their loyalty, and the ties which bind their families will be tested. And amid all of the tumult of a quickly changing nation, their destiny will depend on what exactly they’re willing to risk for liberation.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Freedman/Johnson

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