LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. I’m not normally a huge fan of historical fiction but this book has captured my heart for life.
Mustard Seed is the companion novel to Yellow Crocus (read that review here!), picking back up in the lives of Lisbeth and Mattie some 10 years after the first book ended. It’s the tumultuous first years after the Civil War and Lisbeth is summoned back home to Virginia to be at her dying fathers bedside. Accompanied by her two children, Lisbeth returns to the family and life she escaped so long ago. Their place in society was dismantled when Lisbeth left, and the Civil War did them no favors, so it comes as no surprise to Lisbeth that the resentment and anger still radiate from both her mother and brother.
In the years following the Civil War, Mattie Freedman has written to her niece in the hopes of bringing her from the plantation to Oberlin, OH to begin a new, free life. When her requests go unanswered, Mattie decides to travel back to Virginia to fetch her in person. Her grown children, Jordan and Samuel (a college educated teacher and lawyer respectively) accompany her, back into the heart of the dying Confederacy, and a life they thought they left behind forever.
The south remains a dangerous place for people like the Freedmans and when they find themselves the victims of violence and forced servitude, Lisbeth must use her position, privilege, and wits to help them.
Absolutely brilliant read. Full of heart and hope, this book (in addition to Yellow Crocus) will be one that remains at the top of my favorites list. It serves as a great reminder that even when the world is ugly and unjust and your fight seems so big (which unfortunately is all too relatable some 200 years later in American history) that a simple deed of kindness, however small, can blossom and spread, edging out the dark. While revolutionaries and figures like Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and Malala Yousafzai certainly deserve the recognition and accolades they receive, it is the small, unnoticed deeds that can also move the tides in the direction of change.
“We don’t get to pick how big our good gets to be, but each of us picks if we gonna do some good right where we are.”
These characters are fierce, brave, and loyal in the face of societal norms and decades of bred hate and fear. They give me hope, even in another time and place, that things can change, and small acts of kindness can snowball into big.
I’ll be thinking about this book for years to come.
Until next week!