Laila: I’m so glad we get to continue our conversation from Women Writers, Women’s Books.
Naomi: Us too!
Laila: Many readers have noticed that the time you lived in parallels current times because there was such an upheaval during World War 1, and the 1918 flu pandemic.
May: Oh, dear! Did you say World War 1? Does that mean there are more?
Laila: Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry to give away information about your future. Yes, there is another great war that impacts so much of the world; the second one included Asia, North Africa and what we now call Oceana and you called Australia.
Naomi: Will we never learn how to live as one people in peace and with justice?
Laila: My understanding is that fewer people die from warfare, hunger, and disease than ever before in human history. So in some ways we have learned to live with more peace and more justice. But we are far from a goal to have 100% peace and 100% justice.
May: Until this moment I thought I’d like to know about the future, to better prepare, but suddenly I see the disadvantage.
Naomi: If we are honest with ourselves we always know there will be difficult times ahead. Whether those challenges are personal or societal, to be human we must face change, loss and uncertainty.
Laila: Do either of you have any wisdom about adapting?
May: I can pass on the best wisdom from my grandmother. She said we humans are all more like the wizard behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, pretending we know what we are doing. She always told me to take the time to listen to my still small voice—she says it’s the spirit of God.
Naomi: Be kind. To yourself and to everyone around you. Kindness does not cost you anything. If you can’t be kind, take a nap.
Laila: Sometimes I fear that I come across as too serious or only focusing on the painful. What do you do to be in touch with the joy of life?
Naomi: Being with a baby or little one always raises my spirits. It’s hard to believe this life isn’t a blessing when you are around the wonder and joy of a small child.
May: Each day I look for something beautiful to be grateful for: a flower, my children, the delicious taste of a peach. This life really is a wonder.
Laila: Now you have given away the future…you have more than one child?
May: Yes I do. But I won’t share more than that. You might just have to write another book to find out what happens to us.
Laila: I think you are right about that.
About the book:
In an early twentieth-century America roiling with racial injustice, class divides, and WWI, two women fight for their dreams in a galvanizing novel by the bestselling author of Golden Poppies.
May and Naomi are extended family, their grandmothers’ lives inseparably entwined on a Virginia plantation in the volatile time leading up to the Civil War. For both women, the twentieth century promises social transformation and equal opportunity.
May, a young white woman, is on the brink of achieving the independent life she’s dreamed of since childhood. Naomi, a nurse, mother, and leader of the NAACP, has fulfilled her own dearest desire: buying a home for her family. But they both are about to learn that dreams can be destroyed in an instant. May’s future is upended, and she is forced to rely once again on her mother. Meanwhile, the white-majority neighborhood into which Naomi has moved is organizing against her while her sons are away fighting for their country.
In the tumult of a changing nation, these two women―whose grandmothers survived the Civil War―support each other’s quest for liberation and dignity. Both find the strength to confront injustice and the faith to thrive on their chosen paths.
Laila Ibrahim is the bestselling author of Golden Poppies, Paper Wife, Mustard Seed, and Yellow Crocus. She spent much of her career as a preschool director, a birth doula, and a religious educator. That work, coupled with her education in developmental psychology and attachment theory, provided ample fodder for her novels.
She’s a devout Unitarian Universalist, determined to do her part to add a little more love and justice to our beautiful and painful world. She lives with her wonderful wife, Rinda, and two other families in a small cohousing community in Berkeley, California. Her young adult children are her pride and joy.
Laila is blessed to be working full-time as a novelist. When she isn’t writing, she likes to take walks with friends, do jigsaw puzzles, play games, work in the garden, travel, cook, and eat all kinds of delicious food. Visit the author at www.lailaibrahim.com.