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Mustard Seed
by Laila Ibrahim

Published: 2017-11-07
Paperback : 284 pages
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The bestselling author of Yellow Crocus returns with a haunting and tender story of three women returning to the plantation they once called home.

Oberlin, Ohio, 1868. Lisbeth Johnson was born into privilege in the antebellum South. Jordan Freedman was born a slave to Mattie, Lisbeth’s ...

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Introduction

The bestselling author of Yellow Crocus returns with a haunting and tender story of three women returning to the plantation they once called home.

Oberlin, Ohio, 1868. Lisbeth Johnson was born into privilege in the antebellum South. Jordan Freedman was born a slave to Mattie, Lisbeth’s beloved nurse. The women have an unlikely bond deeper than friendship. Three years after the Civil War, Lisbeth and Mattie are tending their homes and families while Jordan, an aspiring suffragette, teaches at an integrated school.

When Lisbeth discovers that her father is dying, she’s summoned back to the Virginia plantation where she grew up. There she must face the Confederate family she betrayed by marrying an abolitionist. Jordan and Mattie return to Fair Oaks, too, to save the family they left behind, who still toil in oppression. For Lisbeth, it’s a time for reconciliation. For Jordan and Mattie, it’s time for liberation.

As the Johnsons and Freedmans confront the injustice that binds them, as well as the bitterness and violence that seethes at its heart, the women must find the courage to free their families—and themselves—from the past.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

Prologue
Jordan
1868

Teachers are not supposed to have favorites, but I do. On the first day of the term last fall little Sadie Johnson slipped her hand into mine, looked straight at me with her bright blue eyes and declared with a slight lisp, “It’s my first day too.” My affection for that sweet White girl took root and only grew through the school year. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions


1. At the start of Mustard Seed, Mattie and Lisbeth have a deep love for one another, though they have not been close in many years—even in a community like Oberlin. Why do you believe there was a distance between them? Talk about any people in your life that you were like family with and then grew a part.

2. Early in the novel, both Lisbeth and Jordan proclaim that slavery has been abolished and it is time to move forward as a nation. As the story progresses we learn that the owning class is using alternative ways to get reduced price labor. What are some examples? How did these methods surprise you, if any?

3. What character did you relate to? Like? Dislike?

4. Faith played a large role in Mustard Seed. Talk about any ways you identify with the faith of one of the characters in the book. How did any of the characters make you think about faith in a new or different way, if at all?

5. Lisbeth returned to Virginia to care for her dying father. Mattie returned to Virginia to encourage her niece Sarah to move to Ohio. How compelling was each reason to you?

6. Often times it is difficult for a younger generation to really understand their parents' life experiences as well as the other way around. Discuss a time in your life when this was true and if you were able to bridge the gap, how did that come about?

7. The ongoing, often hidden, effect of war is a sub-theme in Mustard Seed. How does that resonate in your life? Our nation?

8. Family is a theme in this novel. What are some examples of the various ways people become family to one another in Mustard Seed?. How does chosen versus inherited (blood, marriage, adoption) family function in your life?

9. How do the life experiences you read about in Mustard Seed impact how you understand race relations in the United States today?

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by kellykelly (see profile) 05/18/18

 
by DeDeRose (see profile) 03/26/18

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