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Laila Ibrahim Books In Order

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Publication Order of Freedman/Johnson Books

Yellow Crocus (2010)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mustard Seed (2017)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Golden Poppies (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Living Right (2016)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Paper Wife (2018)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Scarlet Carnation (2022)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Laila Ibrahim
Laila Ibrahim grew up in Whittier, California right on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, before moving to Oakland so she could attend Mills College where she studied Child Development and Psychology.

After she got a Master’s Degree in Human Development, she realized that she wanted to do more hands on work with kids, and opened up a preschool of her own: Woolsey Children’s School, where she was director and founder. She had first hand experience of loving kids that were not her own while working there.

Her experiences and education as a parent and an educator provide her with ample for her writing, particularly her study of Attachment and multiculturalism. There are scenes in “Yellow Crocus” that were greatly influenced by the interactions with the kids she had from Woolsey.

Being a birth doula, she had the privilege of witnessing the joy and intensity of childbirth, which is also reflected in her writing.

Laila identifies as a devout Unitarian Universalist, which is kind of like being a radical moderate, and worked at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland for five years as the Director of Children and Family Ministries.

Laila first thought of her characters for “Yellow Crocus” when she was 33 years old. She resisted writing this novel for seven years because she did not believe she was a writer in any way whatsoever, and calls it her ‘Jonah’ moment. Laila is so glad that the story waited for her to tell it. She believes she was part way through the third book when she really began feeling like she was a writer as opposed to somebody that wrote a book.

The idea came in the year 1998, when she was with a group that mentioned he identifies just as much as an Asian person as he does an African American. She quickly started imagining certain characters and was haunted by them, with various scenes coming to mind. Even though she’d never written anything before, she was being called upon to tell this story. For her fortieth birthday, she started the personal marathon of writing her very first novel.

She self published “Yellow Crocus”, her debut novel, in the year 2011, after various agents told her repeatedly that nobody would want to read a story about the love between one enslaved black woman and her privileged white charge. Over the years the readers have proven them wrong. In the year 2015, she became a full time writer.

“Yellow Crocus” is the first novel in the “Yellow Crocus” series and was released in the year 2010. Just moments after Lisbeth is born, she gets taken from her mom and handed over to Mattie, an enslaved wet nurse and young mom that was separated from her own infant son to care for this tiny charge. Thus begins an intense relationship which is going to shape each of their lives for the decades that follow.

Even though Lisbeth leads a life of privilege, she finds only loneliness in the company of her distant and slave owning dad and her overwhelmed mom. While growing older, Mattie gets to be more like family to Lisbeth than her real kin and the girl’s visits over to the slaves quarters, and their loving and lively community, bring each of them closer than ever together.

However can these two women in such disparate circumstances form a bond like they have without any consequence? This deeply moving story of unlikely love traces the journey of these two incredibly different women while each searches for dignity and freedom.

“Mustard Seed” is the second novel in the “Yellow Crocus” series and was released in the year 2017. Oberlin, Ohio in 1868. Lisbeth Johnson was born into privilege in the antebellum South. Jordan Freedman was born a slave to Lisbeth’s beloved nurse, named Mattie. The women forged an unlikely bond that runs deeper than mere friendship. Lisbeth and Mattie, some three years after the Civil War’s end, tend their families and homes as Jordan, an aspiring suffragette, teaches in an integrated school.

Lisbeth learns that her dad is dying, she is summoned on back to the Virginia plantation where she grew up. Here she must face the Confederate family that she betrayed when she married an abolitionist. Mattie and Jordan go back to Fair Oaks, as well, so they can save the family that they left behind, that still work in oppression. For Jordan and Mattie it is time for liberation, while for Lisbeth, it is a time for reconciliation.

While the Freedmans and the Johnsons confront the injustices that bind them, along with the violence and the bitterness that seethes at its core, the women have to dig to find the courage to free their families, as well as themselves, from the past.

“Golden Poppies” is the third novel in the “Yellow Crocus” series and was released in the year 2020. The year is 1894. Sadie Wagner and Jordan Wallace seem to have very little in common with each other. Jordan is a middle aged black teacher that lives in segregated Chicago. Some two thousand miles away, Sadie (the white wife of an ambitious German businessman) lives in much more tolerant Oakland.

However years prior, their families both intertwined back on a plantation in Virginia. Here, Sadie’s and Jordan’s moms each developed a bond stronger than blood, despite one being enslaved and the other was the privileged daughter of the owner of the plantation.

Sadie, with Jordan’s mom on her deathbed, leaves her disapproving husband to make the tough train journey with her mom off to Chicago. However the reunion between these two families is quickly fraught with political and personal challenges.

While the harsh realities of racial divides and some of the injustices of the Gilded Age conspire to hold each of them back, the women find that they need one another more than ever before. Their loyalty, their courage, and the ties that bind each of their families is going to be tested. Amid all the tumult of a rapidly changing nation, their destiny is going to depend on what they are willing to risk for liberation.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Laila Ibrahim

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