“Mama often said, no kind deed from a white person went without a return.”
That’s the word that kept running through my mind while reading this book. I’ve read plenty of books on the time of slavery, but Yellow Wife was different. There were the unfathomable brutalities and inhumane treatment which make every page hard to read but we owe it to those who suffered to witness it. But what stood out to me the most about Pheby’s story was that, even as the child of the master and being able to be white passing, the “special” treatment she received was just as horrible. It was a perspective I hadn’t envisioned but feel so grateful I read it. Even more so knowing it was based on a true story.
Pheby is about to reach her 18th birthday when the story starts and her expectation is that her master, also her father, is to release her with freedom papers. Because of her parentage, the mistress of the house despises her and treats her terribly when the master is away. When tragedy strikes she is dragged away to jail and experiences a level of brutality she has never known but that most of her peers have known their whole lives. Unused to this, we see how the slaves around her despise her for her “easier” path. When she is bought by the owner of the jail, she is once again thrust above her kin and forced to live a life pleasing a man she hates and even support the sale and brutalization of others. We see her try to protect her own and walk the fine line between being seen as a “wife” in “proper” society and a worthless slave.
Such a powerful read with a unique perspective on the domestic brutality of slavery and the impact of being white passing. The afterword and author’s note really struck me and I am so happy to know this story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What’s the last book that opened your eyes to a perspective you hadn’t known before?