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Yellow Wife x Sadeqa Johnson Discussion Questions

Updated: Aug 3

For your next book club selection, choose Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson - a thrilling historical fiction that lives up to the hype! Elevate your book club discussion using the questions below centered around the themes including identity, passing, and woman/motherhood!

Synopsis: Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Brown was promised her freedom on her eighteenth birthday. But when her birthday finally comes around, instead of the idyllic life she was hoping for with her true love, she finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half-Acre, a jail where slaves are broken, tortured, and sold every day. Forced to become the mistress of the brutal man who owns the jail, Pheby faces the ultimate sacrifice to protect her heart in this powerful, thrilling story of one slave’s fight for freedom. Source:

The following questions were discussed by the SoLoveSoul Book Club. Click the link for more information

1. Why do you think Missus Delphina likes to take her wrath out on Pheby? Do you think Massa Jacobs intended to keep his promise to Phedy? Do you think Pheby was naive in believing that he would? 2. “Mama always said the way to keep peace with white folks was to be available and invisible at the same time.” How does this resonate with modern times, and why do you think this custom traveled through the generations following slavery? 3. What are your thoughts on this sequence of events between Missus Delphine, Essex, and Ruth? Why do you think Pheby made the choice she made? 4. Why did the Jailer choose Pheby as his mistress?

5. “...but what choice did we have?”(pg 118) What do you think about Pheby’s choices? Is she taking comfort in her privilege or is she merely surviving? How do you think her journey would have been different if she didn’t have Monroe?

6. Why did Pheby feel so much shameful when confronted by Brenda?

7. What do you think about Pheby’s evolution throughout the story?

8. Discuss language and speech and the role in played in the treatment of the characters. How did they shape the story and the lives of the characters? Do you think this disparity was only based on gender?

9. Discuss the treatments of Essex and Pheby (or men and women in general) and the different methods they had to explore to survive the institution of slavery.

10. What do you think about the ending? What are your thoughts on Hester, Isabel, and Joan’s decision new life?

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