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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Written by Ann K. Howley, The Memory of Cotton follows fifteen-year-old Shelby, a rebellious teenager who suffers from bouts of anger and grief after the unexpected death of her younger brother, which also led her parents to divorce. One day, while rummaging through her grandmother's stuff, Shelby finds a Ku Klux Klan robe and quilt belonging to her great-grandfather. When Grandma wants to visit her old hometown in Finley, North Carolina, Shelby and her best friend Darrin accompany her, eager to discover her family secrets. Upon arrival at her grandmother's childhood friend's house, Shelby and Darrin uncover buried details of events that took place sixty years ago in Finley, the repercussions of which would reverberate with the present generation.
The Memory of Cotton is a young adult coming-of-age tale that deals with issues of homophobia and racism in rural America. Ann K. Howley tells a captivating tale illustrating how past sins have a way of finding their way to the present, and no matter how much effort is put into hiding the truth, it eventually comes out with consequences. The Memory of Cotton is a heartbreaking tale that follows two teenagers coming across the hatred and discrimination that led to ruined lives and having to navigate their way through the mistakes made by their ancestors. The narrative focuses on some heavy yet increasingly relevant subject matter through the lens of two youngsters still finding their place in this world. I found this book thoroughly absorbing and especially adored the friendship between Shelby and Darrin. Highly recommended.