Friday, January 29, 2021

Review: Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson (audio)


Title: Yellow Wife
Author: Sadeqa Johnson
Narrator: Robin Miles
Published: January 2021, Simon and Schuster Audio
Length: 9 hours 31 minutes
Source: Publisher

In the tradition of Wench and Twelve Years a Slave, this harrowing story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.

Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Brown was promised her freedom on her eighteenth birthday. But when her birthday finally comes around, instead of the idyllic life she was hoping for with her true love, she finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half-Acre, a jail where slaves are broken, tortured, and sold every day. Forced to become the mistress of the brutal man who owns the jail, Pheby faces the ultimate sacrifice to protect her heart in this powerful, thrilling story of one slave’s fight for freedom.


My thoughts:  This is a book that I know I will be not forgetting anytime soon. It's one of those that as difficult as it was to read, it's also the type that makes the most lasting impression and one that I will be raving about for some time to come.

This is such a powerful read and it also packs quite the emotional punch. It is heartbreaking and intense yet also one that is filled with hope. The characters come to life on the pages and are so well-developed, especially Pheby Brown, known at the 'Yellow Wife.' She truly is a remarkable woman for all that she goes through, all the choices she is forced to make. 

I loved that this book was told from Pheby's point of view. It gives us such an insight into all the Pheby is going through. We really feel the burden that she is under, how she is coping with all that is going on. We see the toll that it takes, yet we see just how smart she really is.

This book is inspired by a true story based on Mary Lumpkin and Lumpkin's Jail, known as "the Devil's half acre" in Richmond, Virginia. It's a part of history I knew nothing about and this is why I love reading genre - I feel I am always learning something new. I loved the author's note at the end of the book - it totally sent me down a rabbit hole of googling more about this. 

The attention to detail that Sadeqa Johnson has put into this book is remarkable, and while it is at times quite difficult to read, it is nevertheless an incredible story, one that I will absolutely be recommending to anyone who reads historical fiction. 

Audio thoughts: This was an amazing audio book. As hard as it was to listen to at times, Robin Miles really did a fantastic job bringing the book to life. Her pacing and intonation was spot on and she infused just the right amount of emotion and tension into her voice as needed.



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