Golden Poppies by Laila Ibrahim
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 3.3 MB
From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed comes the empowering novel of two generations of American women connected by the past and fighting for a brighter future.
It’s 1894. Jordan Wallace and Sadie Wagner appear to have little in common. Jordan, a middle-aged black teacher, lives in segregated Chicago. Two thousand miles away, Sadie, the white wife of an ambitious German businessman, lives in more tolerant Oakland, California. But years ago, their families intertwined on a plantation in Virginia. There, Jordan’s and Sadie’s mothers developed a bond stronger than blood, despite the fact that one was enslaved and the other was the privileged daughter of the plantation’s owner.
With Jordan’s mother on her deathbed, Sadie leaves her disapproving husband to make the arduous train journey with her mother to Chicago. But the reunion between two families is soon fraught with personal and political challenges.
As the harsh realities of racial divides and the injustices of the Gilded Age conspire to hold them back, the women find they need each other more than ever. Their courage, their loyalty, and the ties that bind their families will be tested. Amid the tumult of a quickly changing nation, their destiny depends on what they’re willing to risk for liberation.
“Well, I guess I ain’t never gonna see them beautiful poppies . . . or look on Lisbeth’s face again,” Mama declared, looking straight at Jordan.
Her dark-brown eyes were glossy. She didn’t bother to blink away her tears. Jordan’s eyes matched her mother’s. She stifled a protest, forcing down the urge to tell Mama she was wrong, that her appetite would come back along with her strength. But there was no point in fighting for a lie. Mama was dying and leaving Jordan forever.
Invisible hands choked Jordan’s throat tight. She sat on the bed by her mother, so close she felt a bony hip against her thigh. Her daughter, Naomi, stood near. For weeks they’d searched in vain for something, anything, that would stay in Mama’s stomach. The devastating truth, hiding in plain sight, had finally been spoken.
Mama took Jordan’s hand, her shriveled thumb stroking the back of it. “I had a good life . . . a ver’ good life. The Lord has blessed me more than I have a right to. I ain’t afraid to go home.” She sighed. “I jus’ wish I could see how it all turns out.” Mama let out a weak laugh. “Ain’t I a foolish ol’ woman!”
“Grammy, no one would ever call you a fool,” Naomi countered. “You deserve everything you have . . . and more. After working so hard for all of us your whole life, you get to just rest. I’ll be back with a tonic to ease your pains.”
Jordan was struck by Naomi’s calm confidence. Her reserved daughter had somehow turned into this poised young woman.
Naomi left her grandmother’s bedroom. The click of the door echoed in the chamber. A dim ray of sun filtered through the lone window. It faced a narrow light well, a small gap between row houses that were built right next to one another.
Mama’s body had shrunk under her faded quilt. Jordan’s gaze traveled across the various fabrics that kept her mother warm—disjointed parts of their lives stitched into a whole. The dress Mama had escaped in was at the center, the homespun plantation cotton still strong and whole, though many of the other fabrics had worn through over the years. Surrounding the rough, enduring material were blocks made from the remnants of Samuel’s trousers, Jordan’s dresses, and Pops’s shirts.