Publication Date: May 6, 2013
Allison Tillman finds the body of a black man while out for a walk. Even for the late 60s, Forrest Town, Arkansas is behind the times when it comes to the Civil Rights Movement and Allison knows that his death happened at the hands of white men from her town. Finding the body changes her life and causes her to look at people and events around her in a new way. She can no longer live with the way blacks are treated as lesser, disposable beings. Allison’s difficulty is that she’s engaged to a man who makes a sport out of beating people simply based on the color of their skin. Her much beloved Daddy, who she’d never want to disappoint, tells her to know her place. Her sister didn’t know her place and was sent to New York. Will Allison keep her feelings inside as her mother has or will she speak out like her sister, Maggie? Will she marry Jimmy Lee and what about Jackson Johns, the young black officer who fills in for his brother on the Tillman farm to whom she feels an undeniable attraction?
As always when reviewing an A.R.C., changes may be made between now and the date of publication.
You won’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. In the midst of another fight for civil rights, Melissa Foster reminds us of how far society has come. This is a story we’re read before—in fact and fiction—but one that as time passes, people seem to have forgotten, only heading flashes of pop culture remembrance in novels like “The Help”. We all nod soulfully and make the right noises, but what must it have been like to live then? Foster brings us Allison Tillman. Allison tells us her story in regional dialect and from a place of confusion. Never had she thought about it before, but as an emerging adult and soon to be married woman, Foster brings us a character who is changing in a changing time.
Foster is an incredibly descriptive writer. The man that Allison finds on her walk has been dead and in the water for a number of days. In the scene, it is clear that Foster has done her homework on what would happen to a dead body when in the water.
His tongue had bloated and completely filled the opening like a flesh sock had been stuffed in the hole… .
I will confess to feeling horror at this scene, which was so well described. The novel overall rings of an extreme amount of research and immersion into an era. There is a very distinct feel of time and place.
Early on, Foster makes some difficult choices that require a delicate balance. As Allison starts seeing things in a new way, she’s also seeing her own insignificance in the grand scheme of the story line. She sees what a truly bad guy her fiancé is and how nothing she does will impact him or make him think. Some readers may find him too awful to be believeable, but I found him credible, as we’re not getting his internal dialogue. I think Jimmy Lee is also balanced by the willingness of officials to turn a blind eye to coincidence.
Overall Have No Shame is a stunningly impactful read. The plot is time driven and focused on Allison’s personal journey. There are many quite predictable moments. Foster writes the predictable moments in a unique voice that takes them to another level. In the end there were things that were simply too easy to be believed for Allison, but it must be remembered that this is fiction.
I would recommend Have No Shame for fans of mid-century fiction and human drama. If you like the epic sagas that offer life changing challenges, this one is for you. I enjoyed it from start to finish and look forward to reading more from Melissa Foster.[easyazon-cta align=”right” asin=”B00CC34O1E” height=”28″ key=”amazon-ca-small-light” locale=”ca” width=”90″] [easyazon-cta align=”right” asin=”B00CC34O1E” height=”28″ key=”amazon-uk-small-orange” locale=”uk” width=”137″]
Check out the review of Sisters in Love by Melissa Foster.