Yellow Wife, a review by Di

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The Yellow Wife
Sadeqa Johnson

288 pages
Published on January 12, 2021 by Simon & Schuster

This book follows the life of Pheby, born into slavery in Virginia. It has kept me up at night thinking about it.

The writing is very graphic and descriptive. Even though most people are aware that most slaves were mistreated, reading about it when it is so explicitly described brings it alive. A few times I had to stop reading to sit back and process what I had just read.

Pheby is an exceptional character. Her mother instilled in her a sense of worth and a set of principles that helped her keep her dignity for a very long time. After she had a child, she was compelled to forsake some of her principles for the sake of her child. She made a deal with the Devil.

She was forced to witness beatings. I still shudder to think of these beatings. Officially they were meant as punishment but more as a show of power. I still have a very hard time understanding how it was possible that slaves were considered as chattel, as a possession. How is it possible that it was acceptable for one human being to own another?

The further I got in the book, the faster I wanted to read, hoping to get to a happy ending. It was a very difficult book to read and to process.

There are notes from the author at the end… these notes explain how her book was based on fact and real people. The notes detailed how she came across the story and all the research she did to create characters with real personalities, good and bad. I wish to extend a huge thank you to Sadeqa Johnson for the extensive research and work she put into The Yellow Wife.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an Advance Readers Copy of this book.

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