Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Published: January 12, 2020
Simon Schuster
Series: NA
Format: eBook (ARC)
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Available: BN | Amazon 

These stories are never easy to read but I know they are a necessary must especially in this present time where racial divisions in this Country are continuously being stoked by people in power. This story is a fictional one based on the life of Biracial slave Mary Lumpkin and her life at the Lumpkin Jail in Virginia. A jail where slaves were tortured and sold. 

Pheby Delores Brown is the mulatto daughter of the master of the plantation she and her mother live on. She’s not in the fields but works in the loom house with her mother. Their lives aren’t any easier because of the mistress of the plantation and her jealousy of Pheby’s mother who was basically being raped by this man every day of her life. The treatment Pheby received at the hands of this woman just proves that white women were in constant alignment with white men in the treatment of Black people, they were never innocents.  

After losing her mother and her love Essex Henry, Pheby is sold to the jail called the Devil’s Half Acre. There, she becomes the owner's “wife”. There she is reunited with her love but can’t be fully with him. There she fights for her life and the lives of her children. 


This is a historical fiction story based on a real life of an enslaved woman. I finished this book in one sitting. Sadeqa Johnson did an amazing job of telling this story. Pheby was no tragic mulatto. Her constant fight to save the people she loved during constant abuse was heartbreaking. With her research of the history of the Lumpkin jail at her fingertips, this author crafts a story that will tear at your insides.  Its fully engaging and heartbreakingly sorrowful but necessarily needed.

I haven't read a book this moving in a really long time and for that, I take my wig off to Sadeqa Johnson. She pulled no punches and for that, I can't be mad or upset. As much as some folk keep saying that they are tired of seeing these stories, I say to them; read this book. 

Side Note: I'm trying to figure out this cover. Because on the one hand, it can be deceptive. Was that on purpose? Because trust, Pheby did not live the fancy dress life.

*thank you to the publisher to the publisher for the opportunity to read

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