Mattie was never truly mine. That knowledge must have filled me as quickly and surely as the milk from her breasts. Although my family ‘owned’ her, although she occupied the center of my universe, her deepest affections lay elsewhere. So along with the comfort of her came the fear that I would lose her some day. This is our story…
So begins Lisbeth Wainwright’s compelling tale of coming-of-age in antebellum Virginia. Born to white plantation owners but raised by her enslaved black wet-nurse, Mattie, Lisbeth’s childhood unfolds on the line between two very different worlds.
Growing up under the tender care of Mattie, Lisbeth adopts her surrogate mother’s deep-seated faith in God, her love of music and black-eyed peas, and the tradition of hunting for yellow crocuses in the early days of spring. In time, Lisbeth realizes she has freedoms and opportunities that Mattie does not have, though she’s confined by the societal expectations placed on women born to privilege. As Lisbeth grows up, she struggles to reconcile her love for her caregiver with her parents’ expectations, a task made all the more difficult as she becomes increasingly aware of the ugly realities of the American slavery system. When Lisbeth bears witness to a shockingly brutal act, the final vestiges of her naiveté crumble around her. Lisbeth realizes she must make a choice, one that will require every ounce of the courage she learned from her beloved Mattie.
This compelling historical novel is a richly evocative tale of love, loss, and redemption set during one of the most sinister chapters of American history.
Delightful, short, emotional, cultural, historical, thoughtful, powerful.
I remember downloading this free from amazon a while ago, wanting to read it but it just kept getting pushed further and further down the list, then one day I decided to go for it and I wasn´t disappointed.
Written from both points of view, Mattie, the slave girl, and Lisbeth, the little baby whom she cares for while growing up. Your heart just warms for both Mattie and Lisbeth, but so much more for Mattie as she has to leave her family to care for Lisbeth. Mattie is so strong. The book goes to show how skin colour doesn´t matter if the education is handled correctly.
It is very well written, with such great descriptions of the plantation and the house, the clothes and other general things of the era.
It is a short book and can be finished quickly, you might think more could be added as the ending, although good, it would have been nice to have a continuation of the two main characters and their families until later on in their lives. I also found that the last few chapters covered mostly Lisbeth, it would have been nice to have equal parts of Lisbeth and Mattie, although the descriptions of Mattie´s journey where the best part in the book for me.
Very recommended if you love books covering the slave years on a plantation.