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Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite
In 1967 in Forrest Town, Arkansas, eighteen year old Alison Tillman finds the body of a dead black man, Byron Bingham, floating in the nearby St.Francis River. Alison is ashamed to be white as she is almost certain that white people caused Byron's death. His wife worked for local shopkeeper Billy Carlisle and was forced to sleep with him. Byron had told Billy to stay away from his wife and was beaten up and killed for his words of warning. Alison wants to help Byron Bingham's family through the pain of his terrible death but she fears her father, Ralph Tillman's, wrath as he is a local farmer who employs blacks to work his fields. Alison's mother, Hillary, quietly supports integration and brings bandages and antiseptics to the Johns family when their son, Albert, is beaten up badly by local whites. Alison is engaged to Jimmy Lee Carlisle but she is not certain that she wants to marry him. She is sure that Jimmy Lee and his white friends are going after blacks, beating them up, and that they are encouraging Alison's brother Jake to go along with them. Then, Maggie, Alison's rebellious older sister returns home from New York City where she is a part of the Civil Rights Movement and Alison meets Jackson Johns who wants to work for the Tillman's until his brother Albert recovered from his wounds. Will Forrest Town be the same little segregated town it has been for decades ever again?
"Have No Shame" by noted author Melissa Foster is a highly readable novel that tells of the Civil Rights Movement slowly coming to a little southern town in 1967. Alison, her mother Hillary and a few other white residents of Forrest Town are against segregation as many white southerners actually were in those tumultuous years. The white and African-American characters of "Have No Shame" are authentically portrayed. The tension in the storyline as it proceeds to the book's last pages is accurate as integration did not take place easily or overnight. "Have No Shame" is a delightful eye opener and a rather poignant book that everyone everywhere should put on their "must-read" lists.