- Carole Lewis
First Place 4 Health National Director
“What a touching triumph over a difficult childhood. Karen’s raw and honest voice immediately draws us into her life. What a tribute to her inner strength to acknowledge her past and use it as a tool to help others who have also been victims of childhood abuse and neglect.”
- Ruthanne Mefford
Director, Child Advocates of Fort Bend
It begins with Karen’s reality: Bad as home was, I always wanted to go back there, ‘cause I belonged! “Home” is an isolated Appalachian barn where poverty, neglect, and abuse go unseen until the children (twelve) reach school age.
At age five and deathly ill from parasites, Karen watches from the welfare agents’ back seat as her hysterical mom’s image gets smaller while the car speeds away. Terrified, yet determined, she remembers their route; she will get back home. Orphanage memories are horrific, but she thanks God for tricycles and popsicles (her first). Gossip has it the town prostitutes ratted on the family’s health. Moving from hating these women to seeing how God uses them to protect the kids is the beginning of Karen’s faith.
Running from welfare, moving constantly, Karen knows she’s the dirtiest, poorest kid in school. Scenarios change, but chaotic, frightening themes of fear, hunger, abuse and peer ridicule repeat. Then, at age sixteen, Karen senses hope when she marries Terry and prepares her first home, a $4000 trailer, for their child. Could this be stability?
If only! Hard work, little pay, parenting and marriage stresses become overwhelming. Acts of ministry from Karen’s home church sustain her until a new devastating challenge surfaces: providing for her children, extended family, and husband, Terry, who now has a life-threatening illness. Can she manage this trial? Can she preserve?
**WINNER** GOLD MEDAL, Southern Fiction, READERS' FAVORITE AWARD
**FINALIST** Historical Fiction, READERS' FAVORITE AWARD
* Book Club Recommendation *
Where civil rights and forbidden love collide...
The racially-charged prejudice of the deep South forces eighteen-year-old Alison Tillman to confront societal norms--and her own beliefs--when she discovers the body of a hate crime victim, and the specter of forbidden love turns her safe, comfortable world upside down. A meaningful combination of romantic suspense and coming of age at its very best.
"This book will resonate with readers who enjoyed Kathryn Stockett's, THE HELP, Julie Kibler's, CALLING ME HOME, John Grisham's, A TIME TO KILL, Sue Monk Kidd's, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, and Kathleen Grissom's, THE KITCHEN HOUSE."
PLEASE NOTE: This book contains TWO versions of this novel. Readers have the option to read with or without the southern dialect in the narrative (two versions, one novel, one purchase). Both versions reflect the exact same story, with the only difference being the style of the narrative.
Q&A with author Melissa Foster
Q: How is HAVE NO SHAME different from each of your other novels?
MF: I write across genres, and HAVE NO SHAME is my first historical fiction novel. But SHAME is also a coming-of-age story, and so much more. HAVE NO SHAME is told in a very soft voice--the voice of the main character, Alison Tillman, and is reflective of her Southern voice.
Q: You've said that this story is your most important story to date. Why is that?
MF: HAVE NO SHAME was not an easy book to write. Researching and writing this story took me back to the civil rights era--unearthing all of the hate and prejudice of the times, and it was an eye opening experience. In many ways prejudice is still as strong now as it was then; it's just aimed at other areas of society. Alison's realization of the prejudices of society--and even of those she loves--and the strength she shows in how she moves forward is a lesson for all of us. The heart is not color-blind, and although I know this type of prejudice still exists, I feel it's important to give the truth of that era a voice.
Q: Is this a stand-alone novel?
MF: Yes, this is a stand-alone novel, however, I'm asked often to write a follow-up novel to explore what happened next in the town and with the characters. I'm looking forward to exploring that soon.
Q: You offer this book in two formats with one purchase--why is that?
MF: Alison's voice came to me as a southern voice in dialogue and in thought, and HAVE NO SHAME is told from Alison's point of view. I felt it was vital to keep her thoughts in her own voice. However, I also realize that readers are passionate about their reading preferences, and because most novels present dialect in only the dialogue, I decided to give readers a choice. Each ebook and each paperback offers both formats: with Southern dialect in the narrative, and without. This has never been done before.
Alison Tillman has called Forrest Town, Arkansas home for the past eighteen years. Her mother's Blue Bonnet meetings, her father toiling night and day on the family farm, and the division of life between the whites and the blacks are all Alison knows. The winter of 1967, just a few months before marrying her high school sweetheart, Alison finds the body of a black man floating in the river, and she begins to view her existence with new perspective. The oppression and hate of the south, the ugliness she once was able to avert her eyes from, now demands her attention.
When a secretive friendship with a young black man takes an unexpected romantic turn, Alison is forced to choose between her predetermined future, and the dangerous path that her heart yearns for.