Cotton Song by Tom Bailey
A Novel

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In World War II–era Mississippi, the aftermath of a tragedy takes on all the intensity and heat of the Delta summer when the town of Ruleton copes with violence, racism, and a vengeful spree that threatens the life of a young girl and the soul of the small town.

In Hushpuckashaw County in the 1940s, many things are desperately unfair. Letitia Johnson, a young black mother and the nanny for one of the town’s most distinguished couples, knows this only too well when the couple’s baby is found drowned in its bath. Accused by the grieving family and the enraged townspeople, Letitia quickly sends her twelve-year-old daughter, Sally, out to hide in the brush before she is taken into custody. The angry mob would get revenge when they drag Letitia from her jail cell and hang her that very night. But they wouldn’t get Sally.

Baby Allen, a courageous social worker, is assigned to Sally’s case, and gradually coaxes the young girl out of hiding, wins her trust, and secures her protection. But once Sally is safe, Baby is left with the greater mission of uncovering the truth about who is responsible for the infant’s death—a shocking revelation that will change the ways and attitudes of a town that has been long in need of changing.

Beautiful and gripping, Cotton Song is the story of a woman’s fight to save the child left behind after the horrific lynching that took her mother’s life.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Tom Bailey

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TOM BAILEY was born in the Mississippi Delta. Growing up, he lived in North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Virginia, and West Virginia. The author of the novel The Grace That Keeps This World and a collection of short stories, Crow Man, as well as A Short Story Writer’s Companion, and the editor of On Writing Short Stories, he has received a Pushcart Prize, a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship, a Newhouse Award from the John Gardner Foundation, and the 2006 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction. Tom Bailey teaches in the creative writing program at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, where he lives with his wife and three children.From the Hardcover edition.
Published January 16, 2009 by Crown. 354 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Cotton Song

Kirkus Reviews

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Jake has his hands full when Bigger, Letitia’s lover and a hulking Parchman presence, stabs a prison guard, committing the grossest act of all: Black con offs white cop.

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Publishers Weekly

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Baby takes in Sally, and while hiding the girl from the Klan, she finds an unlikely ally in Jake Lemaster, the one-time college football hero who is now second-in-command to his father, Boss Chief, at Parchman Farm, the state's infamous penitentiary where Sally's father is serving time for stabbi...

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When Jake begins snooping around the Rules suspecting that Letitia was not at fault his father heads him off, telling him that the truth is what folks agree to say it is, and warning Jake that his scruples are turning him into a weakling.Both Baby and Jake are compelling characters.

Jun 01 2016 | Read Full Review of Cotton Song: A Novel

Historical Novel Society

As Baby fights to uncover the truth behind this heinous crime, she finds herself at odds with Boss Chief and his son, Jake Lemaster, who run Parchman Farm – a local prison – on the backs of men unjustly accused.

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