Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

Pheby Delores Brown lives in the year 1850. She was born on a plantation in Virginia, the daughter of the plantation owner Jacob Bell and Ruth (who was a slave there). She was given opportunities that most African American slaves did not receive because it was against the law. Jacob’s wife, Delphina, sells Pheby to a slave trader while Jacob and Ruth are away on a trip; and she’s marked as a “fancy girl.” After Pheby is sold to the owner of the jail, Rubin Lapier, she becomes a “Yellow Wife” to him; all while she runs his household and bears his children; and from there Pheby’s story unfolds.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Robin Miles. Miles did an incredible job with making sure there was a difference between each character; none of them felt or sounded the same. I enjoyed the emotional ride throughout the book. This book takes you on a series of emotions! It was sad and horrifying in some parts, but raw and amazing in others, which ultimately makes the book incredible. There are descriptions of the violence, inhumanity and family separations that Black women living in slavery faced and the choices they had to make to keep their children alive and safe. Johnson’s depiction of the damages (physical, psychological, emotional, etc.) brought on by slavery, overall makes the book incredible!

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--Britainy, Circulation Assistant

Published by on October 12, 2021
Last Modified December 03, 2022