Book Review: Golden Poppies (Freedman/Johnson#3) by Laila Ibrahim

This is the third book in this series and I must say it has been a pleasure to go on this journey with these two families.

In this book, the Johnson and the Freedman families meet once again as Mattie is close to her last days and her daughter Jordan sends for Lizbeth to spend sometime with her before the end. Lizbeth makes the long trip with her married daughter and this experience opens up a new relationship for the next generation of their families. This is a story about love, commitment, friendship, racism, the fight to real freedom and courage.

Like the other two books before this one, the story was captivating, and I was so excited to see how the characters who were much younger in the previous books had grown and turned out to be. What stood out for me in this book was the fact that black people who were very light skinned due to their mixed racial backgrounds would decide pass as white to be able to get the benefits of a normal white person but this most times would cost them their (black) families as they couldn’t then be associated with them. Although, I have read about this before, the author’s perspectives were interesting to read and ponder upon. Lizbeth, still the darling continues to hold my respect and these stories have opened up a desire in me to read more about the times when the black people in the United States had to go through different phases of “freedom” to be really free. I must add that this author’s work is beautiful and her story telling exquisite. I am totally a fan now and going on to read other books by her.

If you love historical fiction, I highly recommend this book. It’s a really good read.

Rating: 5 Stars

Published:  June 1, 2020

Pages: 297

Genre: Historical Fiction

The Author:

Laila Ibrahim grew up in Whittier, California on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, and moved to Oakland, California to attend Mills College where she studied Psychology and Child Development. After getting a Master’s Degree in Human Development, she realized she wanted to do more hands on work with children, and opened up her own preschool: Woolsey Children’s School. Her education coupled with her experience as a teacher and parent provide ample fodder for her writing – especially her interest in Attachment Theory and multiculturalism.

She identifies as a devout Unitarian Universalist – which is sort of like being a radical moderate – and worked as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland for five years.  She lives in a small co-housing community in Berkeley with her wife, Rinda, a public school administrator. She the proud mother of wonderful young adult daughters.

Laila self-published Yellow Crocus in 2011 after agents repeatedly told her that no one would want to read a story about the love between an enslaved black woman and her privileged white charge. Over the years the readers have proven them wrong.  She became a full-time writer in 2015.

Living Right, her second novel,  is set in 2004, but with a similar theme: loving across difference.  It goes beyond the headline to reveal the life and death stakes when a devoted mother struggles to reconcile her evangelical Christian beliefs with her son’s sexual orientation. 

Mustard Seed continues with the lives of the Freedman and Johnson families after the Civil War.

Paper Wife tells the story of Mei Ling, a young woman forced by social upheaval to marry a stranger and immigrate from Southern China through Angel Island to San Francisco in 1923. 

Golden Poppies continues the story of Mattie and Lisbeth’s families in the 1890’s.

Scarlet Carnation continues with Mattie and Lisbeth’s granddaughters as the point of view characters in Oakland California between 1911 and 1915.

Laila  loves calling, Zooming or FaceTiming into bookclubs and public speaking.  She can be contacted at

Copyright © Biyai Garricks
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Biyai Garricks, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s