Picking Cotton is a heart-wrenching novel that depicts the ramifications of a brutal rape and unjust conviction; it is raw and never gives you the impression that details have been fabricated or exaggerated. There is a strong personal connection maintained with the reader through the use of first person narration by both Jennifer Thompson, the rape victim, and Ronald Cotton, the man wrongfully incarcerated for the crime. The bond created between the text and audience is the driving force throughout the novel; caring so deeply for both Jennifer and Ronald is enough to make each page worth turning. Books rarely evoke emotions from me; however, Picking Cotton had the ability to make me sympathize with both Jennifer and Ronald. The simplistic writing style allows the audience to become immersed in the story and feel the pain and suffering of both main characters without being weighed down by overly zealous sentence structures or word choice. Unlike other books, Picking Cotton gives insight to the thoughts and emotions surging through a rape victim's mind. Similarly, the accounts of prison from Ronald Cotton’s perspective were well written and clearly illustrated the thoughts and hardships experienced by an inmate. Despite the shocking personal accounts that are sometimes hard to swallow, the aforementioned elements create an addictive read that is impossible to put down. The strengths of the novel double as the weaknesses; Picking Cotton is such an amazing read and leaves the audience wanting to know more. I would have liked an epilogue that went into further detail of how Jennifer and Ronald are doing today. Overall, Picking Cotton was an incredible read that I highly recommend.
Reviewed by Kristin Karas, student author
”Together they have produced a well-modulated and generously balanced memoir—at once a devastating and uplifting crash course in the criminal justice system.” –Publisher’s Weekly
“Picking Cotton is a rare, pure story about power and powerlessness, and the fallibility of the human mind. Most of all, it’s a story of the transcendent possibilities of the human spirit.” –Paste
“This book will break your heart and lift it up again...a touching and beautiful example of the power of faith and forgiveness. Its message of hope should reverberate far beyond the halls of justice.” -Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, Author of Dead Man Walking