VERSE & VINO Spotlight: Sadeqa Johnson

Sadeqa Johnson is the award-winning author of And Then There Was Me, Second House From the Corner, Love in a Carry-on Bag and Yellow Wife. Yellow Wife is a 2022 Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy finalist, a BCALA Literary Honoree, the Library of Virginia’s Literary People’s Choice Award winner, and a Barnes & Noble book club pick in paperback. Her other accolades include winning the National Book Club Conference Award, the Phillis Wheatley Book Award, and the USA Best Book Award for Best Fiction. She is a Kimbilio Fellow and teaches in the MFA program at Drexel University. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children.

Learn more about Sadeqa Johnson on her website.


The House of Eve

In The House of Eve, Sadeqa Johnson, the award-winning author of Yellow Wife, transports us to 1950s DC and Philadelphia in this epic love story that explores themes of race, class, colorism, and women’s ambition as two Black women’s lives intersect while trying to overcome their circumstances.

When Eleanor, a small-town girl from Ohio, meets William at university, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of Washington, DC’s elite Black families, and his parents are less than welcoming to Eleanor. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and give her life the meaning she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.

Ruby is a teenager whose single-minded determination to win a college scholarship keeps her grounded despite her turbulent home life in a poor neighborhood in Philadelphia. When she finds herself pregnant after falling in love with a white Jewish boy named Shimmy, she gets sent off to a home for “wayward girls” where she must wait out her pregnancy under the strict eye of the Catholic nuns.

In The House of Eve, the lives of Ruby and Eleanor collide in the most unexpected ways as each woman carves a place for herself in 1950s America.

This is also a personal story for Sadeqa, whose grandmother became pregnant with Sadeqa’s mother at fourteen. In all of Sadeqa’s research on homes for unwed mothers—of which there were many in the US during this time period—she never heard about a place for Black girls like her grandmother. Eventually, she stumbled upon the Florence Crittendon Home for Girls, which served as the basis of Ruby’s story.

Johnson has been the recipient of the National Book Club award, a Phillis Wheatley award and the USA Best Book award for best fiction, and her previous novel, Yellow Wife, was a Barnes & Noble book club pick in paperback, named a best book of the year by NPR and Christian Science Monitor, and cemented Johnson as a historical fiction novelist writing at the top of her game.

The House of Eve is grounded in deep research and is a heartwarming story about star-crossed love, ambition, and the sacrifices women make to find their way. This novel “is a powerful witnessing, an indispensable testimony, and a remarkable addition to Johnson’s already stunning bibliography” (Robert Jones, Jr., author of The New York Times bestselling novel, The Prophets).

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