Thursday, April 18, 2013

Have No Shame: Epic Love Story Meets Civil Rights

I recently read a book that really touched me, so I wanted to share a little more about it here with my Albertinis! You've heard me mention it several times if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook. It's Have No Shame (HNS), by Melissa Foster.

If you want to check out the book trailer, to see if it's your cup of tea, she did a beautiful job with it. It's one of the things that hooked me right away and made me realize that I had to read this book and know Alison and Jackson's story.

Besides having an amazing trailer, check out this book cover! Seriously, I could weep at its simple beauty.

Here's the fun part. HNS was due to be released this May. But, shhhh!, a little birdie told me it was on sale early, even though the big, official push will still come in May. {You're welcome for the tip!}

HNS is a story set in the racially-charged south in the later 1960's when segregation should have been done with, but as we know, some places were not quick adapters when it came to this type of change. And many people in small, southern towns were not too keen on the ideal of racial equality. None of this is "new." Many stories have been written about this subject. But this one is worth the read for many, many reasons. I did a full review on Amazon and Goodreads, but I wanted to share a little more here because it's a story that affected me so deeply and I believe deserves the extra attention because of its beauty and message.

Foster's quiet, gently-rolling tone, and voice of her main character, Alison, is just so sweet, honest, and compelling. We watch Alison go from being a Daddy's girl, who was raised under an umbrella of prejudice her whole life, to finding out that she doesn't really believe those things deep down in her heart. It's not HER voice telling her these things. It's the hate and fear she's always lived in the shadow of in Forrest Town, Arkansas. And her fiance, Jimmy Lee, is one of the ring leaders who takes justice into his own hands from time to time.

After Alison witnesses something horrific at the story's opening, her feelings begin to shift. She can no longer sit by quietly, listening to slurs of hatred from those around her, based on nothing more than the color of some one's skin.  

Foster does an amazing job not just with tone and a brilliant cadence in her story telling that just pulls you right in, but her characters are genuine, rich, and compelling. In addition to Alison, three other women are so strong and deep: Her mother, her sister Maggie (who's an Original Brave Girl), and Patricia. Watching the relationship between Alison and her mother unfold is like watching a little slice of heaven. I love in one part of the story where she says, "I learned more about Mama in that five-minute stop at the furniture store than I had in my entire eighteen years of livin' in her house." How many times as women do we feel that way about our mothers? When we learn that they're people and not just our mamas. The relationship dynamics that Foster weaves are just beautiful to witness.

The biggest, of course, being the relationship between Alison and Jackson, the older brother of one of her father's farmhands. Who happens to be African American. Today, not so much of a big deal. But in the 1960's, when the KKK was still active and dangerous, it wasn't so safe or acceptable for either of them. The sweetness of watching this impossible relationship blossom and unfold is divine. You simply cannot look away or put the book down. Never in all of my years of reading can I find a comparable interracial couple who will go down as leading players in a LEGENDARY love story, never to be forgotten. Though not a typical, happily-ever-after, no-bumps-in-the-road kind of tale, theirs is one of great intensity, passion, and conviction. And Foster doesn't sugar coat it either. I seriously started to cry when Jackson had to walk away from Alison for the first time, because they knew their forbidden love was not one they could fight for and win. Jackson is just about the smartest, kindest, strongest, and most empowered swoon-worthy leading man you could ask for. A stark contradiction to Alison's fiance Jimmy Lee who doesn't really love Alison for Alison, but because she's the type of girl he "should" marry, and that's what you did back then. Got out of high school, got married, had kids. She was someone to cook for him, clean for him, and be there at his beck and call. Were as Jackson truly SAW Alison for the beautiful, kind, courageous woman she really was. (Swoon!)

I won't give away the ending, because there are some good twists, but I will say that Foster was realistic, yet hopeful, putting HNS in my top 10 favorite books ever.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and take time to read Alison and Jackson's lovely story. Overcoming stereotypes in the name of love is something we still fight today with same-sex marriages. And even though interracial marriages are no longer taboo, sadly, there are still places where it's not looked upon too favorably--even after more than half a century has passed! That's why stories like these are still so important to be told. In HNS, it's the characters who draw you in and have you rooting for them, and for the bravery they showed in such a historical fight for human freedoms. 

There's a reason why every one of Foster's books made bestseller lists today, and once you read one, you'll realize why too! If you like HNS, check out her other titles a well: Traces of Kara, Chasing Amanda, Megan's Way, and Come Back to Me.
Also, book number one of her Snow Sisters series, The Other Side of Me, comes out this summer! 

Find Melissa: Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Website

She'll also skype with your book club upon request! Happy reading!

3 comments:

  1. Excellent review! Brava! I agree with every word of this after having read HNS. This is such a hard yet compelling story to read. It’s hard because Foster truly captures the grit and turmoil of the worst of that era and the poignant and beautiful blossoming of the best of the era in one story. It hurts but it hopes. I can’t wait to read Traces of Kara next. I am now a fan for life.

    Elizabeth T, Early Rise

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    1. That is exactly what this book is about, beautifully said: "It hurts but it hopes." Wow! This is one of my top 10 books of all times! She did such a wonderful job balancing the ugly reality with the bravery of a small group of people daring to work together to make big change. Think about how BRAVE this was during such a violent and ostracizing time. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment =)

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    2. Thank you so, Elizabeth! Colleen shared what you wrote, "It hurts but it hopes," on Facebook and I thought that was spot on! I'm so happy that you enjoyed Alison and Jackson's story.

      Colleen, you never fail to amaze me. Thank you for posting about Have No Shame! And one of your top 10 faves of all time? >swoon< xox

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