Yellow Crocus originally published in 2010 is a Kindle Unlimited option so I decided to read it again because I kind of just rushed through it the first time.
Moments after Lisbeth is born, she’s taken from her mother and handed over to an enslaved wet nurse, Mattie, a young mother separated from her own infant son in order to care for her tiny charge. Thus begins an intense relationship that will shape both of their lives for decades to come. Though Lisbeth leads a life of privilege, she finds nothing but loneliness in the company of her overwhelmed mother and her distant, slave-owning father. As she grows older, Mattie becomes more like family to Lisbeth than her own kin and the girl’s visits to the slaves’ quarters—and their lively and loving community—bring them closer together than ever. But can two women in such disparate circumstances form a bond like theirs without consequence? This deeply moving tale of unlikely love traces the journey of these very different women as each searches for freedom and dignity.
What struck me on reading this book again was that as a reader, I sometimes forget that I am living in a different reality and I try to judge the story and the actions of the characters by my own values living in these times. This time, I just let it unfold and I did not judge. Louise Rosenblatt, in the book Making Meaning with Texts, selected essays writes:
“The reader brings to the work personality traits, memories of past events, present needs and preoccupations, a particular mood of the moment and a particular physical condition. These and many other elements in a never-to-be-duplicated combination determine his response to the text.”I believe that is always true. I think re-reading the same book at a different time in my life gave me a different read of the book. I was not in the middle of working with my social studies colleague to create a slavery unit for our 8th graders. I am just reading a story to read a story, so the combination of memories, present needs, preoccupations and my mood at the moment created a different enough combination so that I could just enjoy the journey and look on as a fly in the wall as the story unfolded. I am happy to have met Mattie and Lisbeth.