Tag Archives: Yecheilyah Ysrayl

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “Stella – A Short Story,” and Joseph’s Story – The Road to Freedom,” BY AUTHOR @AHOUSEOFPOETRY

Stella and the Road to Freedom

  • Title:  The Stella Trilogy (Review of “Stella,” A Short Story, and “Joseph’s Story – The Road to Freedom”)
  • Author: Yecheilyah Ysrayl
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, African-American Fiction, Historical Fiction, American Literature

*The author provided me with a copy of each book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

I must apologize for the order of the reviews. I read Book Two, Stella – Beyond the Colored Line, first. You can find that review here.

This is a review of book one and book three.

Stella, book 1

Stella – Amazon

When Grandma Stella shares an old journal with Cynthia, her granddaughter, and her boyfriend Alex, the family’s history is laid bare. Grandma Stella explains that she was named after her Great-grandmother, Stella Mae, whose real first name was Hadassahyah, which in Hebrew means ‘myrtle tree.’  Many of the old names were taken from the Slave Ships.

The year is 1864 in Louisiana and the story slips back in time introducing Grandma Stella’s Great grandmother, Stella Mae, age nineteen years. Stella Mae begins her story with a memory of how as a child she was forced to use the facilities designated for “niggras only.” Young Stella Mae tries to reason out why her Mama can’t walk into the front door of the general store and why they can’t use the restroom everyone else uses. Even at a young age, Stella Mae could sense the inequality in her existence.

Stella Mae’s journey is that of trying to find her place in a world where she is only considered to be a piece of property. When her childhood friend, Miss Carla, the daughter of Marse Saddler, and her husband coerce her into following them to their new home; Stella Mae does so trusting that Miss Carla will be her friend just as when they were children. Carla dupes the naïve Stella who now becomes a slave to them. Freedom is just a fleeting image in Stella Mae’s mind. Traded like a farm animal, Stella learns that she is indeed a slave, not a free woman in any way.

Recommendation:

This story retells the history of many African American families alive today. It is a heritage rich with strife and suffering but also filled with a hope and a desire to finally grasp the freedom that has been so elusive and out of reach for so many. At times, I was forced to accept some uncomfortable truths about our American past. There is nothing wrong with that. This story makes you think about freedom and what it really means to you as a person, and as an American.

I loved this story because it is through the learning of other’s journeys that we begin to learn much about ourselves. Their pain becomes our pain and we begin to see through their eyes. Stella Mae will touch your soul with such a sweet simplicity you won’t even know it.

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

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Joseph’s Story – Amazon

The final book in the series is Joseph’s story, where Stella’s grandson reconciles the feelings he has about his heritage. It is the story of a young man moved by the eloquent words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who yearns to be part of the white middle class and part of the movement to revolutionize the world all at the same time. A man, both white and black, hoping to evoke change in the world of 1960’s America.

The Jim Crow laws had come to an end in 1954 when the segregation of public (state-sponsored) schools was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in Brown v. Board of Education. However, the lasting effects of these laws were felt all over the United States, not just in the southern states.

Joseph along with a group of his friends, both black and white, embark on a journey of self-discovery. Naïve but believing that they could make a difference, the young people set out to become part of the SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) conference in Georgia. This book chronicles the trials and tribulations of their journey.

My favorite quote from the book is when Joseph recounts: “In the beginning it was not about Civil Rights, it was about freedom and freedom is what it has all been about.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary currently defines freedom as:

“noun  free·dom  \ˈfrē-dəm\

Definition of freedom

  1. 1:  the quality or state of being free: as a:  the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b:  liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another :  independence
    c:  the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care> d:  easefacility <spoke the language with freedom> e:  the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken <answered with freedom> f:  improper familiarity g:  boldness of conception or execution h :  unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of their home>
  2. 2a:  a political right b:  franchiseprivilege.”

Recommendation:

In 1960’s America, African Americans did not even have the ability to vote because of strict registration laws. Many African Americans lived in poverty and were born in their homes. There were few hospital births. The end result was a lack of birth certificates, the very documentation needed to prove American citizenship. Of the African Americans that did register to vote many lost their jobs, their homes, and their lives. This was happening when I was a young girl. It is not fiction.

What did I learn from Joseph’s story AND the entire Stella series? Flash forward into the future to the headlines that exist today. Unfortunately, racism still exists in our society. My hope is that the more we read and understand the plight of all Americans we will learn what freedom really means. We can all learn to be free by knowing who we are as a people. I was humbled by Joseph’s story. This was another emotional read for me, as are all of Yecheilyah’s books.

If you like provocative reads that make you think about life and your own values you will enjoy Joseph’s Story – The Road to Freedom. In fact, I suggest reading the entire series. It is well worth the visit back into the past.

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Here is more about Author, Yecheilyah Ysrayl:

Born in 1987 on the south side of Chicago, Yecheilyah Ysrayl (“EC”) is an author and Spoken Word Artist.

Yecheilyah started writing short stories and poetry at the age of twelve. She attended Harper High School (International Language Career Academy) Robert Morris College (Computer Basics/Administration), Chicago State University (Professional and Technical Writing), and Everest College (Medical Assistant/Phlebotomy).

As an artist, Yecheilyah Ysrayl is an incorporation of spiritual critique, honesty and an authentic analysis of African American identity. She seeks to create work that promotes healthy research and investigation into the cultural identity, laws, customs and traditions of the African American for self-revolution and advancement. Furthermore, “EC” seeks to advance the promotion of truth and identity by way of Spoken Word.

“EC” currently lives in Shreveport, LA with her husband where she writes full time.

You can connect with Yecheilyah through her Twitter @ahouseofpoetry
and Facebook at Yecheilyah Ysrayl

To watch a trailer for the book click the link below.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 1122016

 

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “BEYOND THE COLORED LINE, STELLA – BOOK 2,” BY AUTHOR @HOUSEOFPOETRY

Stella: Beyond the Colored Line by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

  • Title:  Beyond the Colored Line – Stella, Book 2
  • Author: Yecheilyah Ysrayl
  • File Size: 443 KB
  • Print Length: 64 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Lulu.com
  • Publication Date: July 27, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B013PQCKK8
  • Formats: Kindle, Stella – book 1: Kindle
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Literature, Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

Introducing – Stella May

In 1916, Stella May is born as the great-granddaughter of a former slave, also named Stella May. The original Stella May changed her family’s surname to May upon gaining her freedom. Stella is born of mixed ancestry which for all appearances gives her light skin, blond hair, and hazel eyes.

An amazing beauty, Stella is teased by her black classmates because they don’t believe she is black enough. She looks white and even sounds white. In comparison, her white classmates ridicule her since she is too poor to fit in with proper white society. Stella May is caught in the proverbial catch 22. She is too light to be black and too poor to be white.

Stella May’s mother, Judith was born of mixed ancestry also, which gave her the same light skin, hair, and eyes. Judith always thought of herself as a black woman when she married Stella’s father who was also black. By 1928, Stella’s father ran off in fear of being lynched for being married to a white woman. In those days, society made it clear that the races should not co-mingle.

Who is Sidney McNair?

However, even without her father around, Stella was raised with a family of aunts (from her mother’s side) who took an active part in her life. Eventually, because of the difficulties with Stella fitting in at school, her mother sent her to a private school. Stella’s uncles on her father’s side said, “…They were breaking the law – that a Negro had no business in a white school.” Aunt Sara felt different, because, after all, she said, “Stella is half white.”

By the time the Great Depression eases, Stella and her family move to segregated Chicago, where life is not much better. Aunt Sara, a school teacher, struggles to wait for the school district to pay her. Sara has made the step into white society by dating an affluent doctor and encourages Stella to do the same.  After a discussion with Aunt Sara, Stella decides to pass for white. Sidney McNair is born and enters a white society where she had the freedom to go where she chooses and to buy whatever she likes. Stella has crossed the colored line.

Many years later, Sidney is forced to come to grips with the decisions she made long ago. How those decisions affect her life, and the lives of her children and grandchildren, take the reader on a roller-coaster ride into the world of race and ethnicity in America today.

Recommendation:

Since I had not read the first book in the Stella series, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to pick up the threads of Stella’s story. Although the characters are fictional, I was drawn to them (especially Stella) because I have granddaughters of mixed ancestry and I wanted to understand the challenges they face as young women each day.

Maybe, because I felt such a personal connection, Stella’s story touched me even more deeply than I thought it would. I had no idea how difficult life was for Stella and her family, all because of the color of their skin. This was an emotional read for me.

Even more revealing, is how relevant Stella’s story is in America today. I wonder how many people, faced with the same dilemma’s that Stella dealt with, would be able to reconcile their feelings about their own ethnicity.

So, I asked my granddaughters who have black, white, and Thai ancestry. Both girls are beautiful and exotic. They have dark hair, and skin, while one granddaughter has brown eyes, the other has hazel eyes. You know what they told me? They said they were American! Somehow, I knew Stella would have approved.

Beyond the Colored Line is a story about an American family dealing with the issues of race and color in a time when those issues were considered to be conditions characterized with hardship and suffering. Stella’s story helped me to discover connections with my own family I never had before. You see, even in my own family, nothing is ever just black and white.

My Rating:

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5
Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Author, Yecheilyah Ysrayl:

Born in 1987 on the south side of Chicago, Yecheilyah Ysrayl (“EC”) is an author and Spoken Word Artist.

Yecheilyah started writing short stories and poetry at the age of twelve. She attended Harper High School (International Language Career Academy) Robert Morris College (Computer Basics / Administration), Chicago State University (Professional and Technical Writing), and Everest College (Medical Assistance / Phlebotomy).

As an artist, Yecheilyah Ysrayl is an incorporation of spiritual critique, honesty and an authentic analysis of African American identity. She seeks to create work that promotes healthy research and investigation into the cultural identity, laws, customs and traditions of the African American for self-revolution and advancement. Furthermore, “EC” seeks to advance the promotion of truth and identity by way of Spoken Word.

“EC” currently lives in Shreveport, LA with her husband where she writes full time.

To watch a trailer for the book click the link below.

Make certain to connect with Yecheilyah through her Twitter @ahouseofpoetry

And Facebook at Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Book Review by: @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 10.2015