Division is a street dividing the colored side of town from the white. And for all the years I’ve lived in the States, it never occurred to me that’s what the name might mean. Melissa Foster’s Have No Shame takes its characters across that line, first with accidental meetings, then clandestine plans, and then in a rush from danger to hope.
The story’s told in two versions in this ebook—an intriguing and clever use of electronic format. One version includes dialect in the text while the other sticks to more conventional spellings and word endings. I chose to read the latter since I’m easily frustrated by needing to decipher words, but I skipped through the dialect version afterward and either would have been a good well-flowing read.
Told in first person, the slightly formal tone gives a convincing feel of the protagonist’s separation from family and society. She’s soon to be married, and she doesn’t like to displease, but her fiancé engages in disturbing activities at night, and black farm laborers suffer at his hands. A dead body, unpleasant rumors, honest suspicion and an accidental meeting turn Alison’s thoughts on their head, but she continues trying to persuade herself to do what her family says is right.
The reader will see the twist coming long before its culmination but the character’s blind adherence to convention and expectations is entirely plausible, and she doesn’t spare her danger a thought until it happens. Then there are lessons to be learned all around, and those who choose not to see might have to open their eyes after all.
Set in a sadly convincing South during the Civil Rights Movement, and including an equally convincing trip to the North, Melissa Foster’s Have No Shame holds a candle to those dark corners where shame is simply a question of not looking, and invites us to see. It’s a fast-flowing, smoothly told story which brings the era and its people to life and shows the frail human steps that lead to hope.
Disclosure: The author kindly gave me a free ecopy of her novel, even though I told her it would be a while before I could review it.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more