Yes, today, I'm celebrating being Southern. The first book that Mom and I ever wrote is very close to our hearts. Livin' in High Cotton was inspired by the life of my great grandmother. She was an extraordinary woman whose legacy lives on! Every time I reread this novel, I cry. I hope that a small part of me can rise up to be like my great grandmother. She faced her challenges with courage and hope!
Once when Mom and I were speaking about Livin' in High Cotton to a college class, one of the students asked me to describe the novel in a few sentences. I started going on about how the book is about change and how we all have to embrace the changes that will inevitably come. She cocked her head and gave me this confused look that held a hint of reproof. "Yes, I realize that it's about change," she said. "I got that." She looked me in the eye. "But I thought it was mostly about hope. I went through the book and counted the word hope, and it was in there more than a hundred times."
A surge of emotion welled in breast and I felt humbled. "Yes," I admitted. "You're absolutely right. The book is about hope."
It's funny how it took a comment from a reader for me to really get it. The message is about hope. It's as simple as that. I suppose that's why this story is so touching. We're all looking for that hope--hope that tomorrow will be better than today, hope that our children will realize their full potential, hope that we will have done our best and that someone it will be enough.
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Cultured, graceful, feisty Shelby Collins is the epitome of a southern lady. She tries to prove her competence by looking after her siblings while her mother is away caring for an ailing relative. Shelby’s secure world is turned upside down when her father, in a drunken rage, tries to rape her. Fearing others will learn of his treachery, he kidnaps her, takes her to a reform school, and abandons her. In utter despair, Shelby is sure that her life is over—but sometimes blessings come in the most unexpected ways.
When a chance meeting brings her face to face with the ruggedly handsome, Harlan Rhodes, Shelby is unprepared for the feelings that stir within her. Hearts collide, quickly budding into a lasting love that will span time and space. Through a series of unfortunate events, Shelby and Harlan are separated, forcing them to lead separate lives of loneliness and frustration.
Years later, when their lives converge, old feelings rekindle, and they must decide if they will risk all to finally be together.
Inspired by a true story, this poignant novel is set against the rich tapestry of the South during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. It’s a story of love, betrayal, and the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity. It’s about a young girl, growing up, who realizes that life is full of second chances, and that it’s never too late to learn how to live.