This was such a captivating read. I was pulled in from the very first page and found it hard to put down until I was finished. This was my first historical fiction with slavery as the setting and while I watch these types of movies I was leery about reading them but after watching Sadeqa Johnson talk about this book in a Facebook group I moved this up on my TBR and I am so glad I did.
Pheby story as a mulatto slave pulled me in immediately. She was so naive and sheltered because her mother held a high position at the plantation and was the masters slave concubine which resulted in the birth of his only child. Pheby was also sheltered by her aunt Sally who taught Pheby how to read and play the piano.
The masters wife Delphina of course hated Pheby because she was her husbands only child (never said but implied) and she had issues giving him children herself so she punished Pheby for it. Delphina did not want Pheby bought into the house but Master Jacob did it anyway causing Delphina to hit Pheby often. Pheby on the other hand was bidding her time until Master Jacobs gave her her freedom on her 18th birthday and she could live her life with her love Essex Henry who was planning to buy his freedom.
Essex on the other hand had some things going on that Pheby didn’t know about so when he finally told her she came up with plan to help him run in order to save his life. Master Jacob and Pheby get into an accident when they are on their way back from a business trip so the masters wife ends up selling Pheby after Pheby defended herself from her abuse.
Pheby’s life of privilege changed instantly. She walked for 8 days chained to other slaves and ended in Richmond Virginia where the jail owner Rubin Lupier kept her. In order for Pheby to protect herself and her son from being sold away from her she gives in to the Marge’s advanced and becomes his mistress of the house. While Pheby is the mistress she is still a slave and is still forced to do things she really does not want to do and she struggles with protecting her son and wanting to help the imprisoned slaves as best as she can.
I truly enjoyed this book and literally could not put it down. It was very sad and had me in my feelings the whole time but I still couldn’t make myself put it down. The historical facts in this book were really great I found myself googling a lot especially when it came to this jail Devils Half Acre which in real life was also called the Lumpkin Jail. This story was loosely based off a woman name Mary Lumpkin who was enslaved by Robert Lumpkin and ended up having his children.
Sadeqa did a great job of making me feel everything Pheby was going through. I felt like I had a good sense of what the jail smelled like as it was just so descriptive. I felt Pheby’s struggle to survive and wanting to help the slaves. It was a lot different reading this book than watching a movie because I had to paint my own picture and being able to read what a slave woman must of went through in first person broke my heart. This is definitely a book I suggest everyone one read no matter the color of your skin but I do understand that some people aren’t able to handle these types of reads but if you can I suggest you pick it up you will not be disappointed.