Saturday, August 14, 2010

Books that Impact You; Picking Cotton is Must Read

I learned a lot about the simple pleasure of books the past couple of years. I have never been an avid reader mostly because there was always a long list of activities and responsibilities competing for my attention. But blessed with the time to be more at peace, I have a renewed love for books. Eat Pray Love has been a favorite of mine for several years now. I went with some girlfriends to see the Julia Roberts movie rendition on opening night. It was a good representation of the book and extremely well cast - although Liz Gilbert's words on the paper can never be entirely reproduced. The message of independence, travel, trust and love are as feel good as they come. I recently read Gilbert's new book Committed and found it equally thoughtful, well-written and uplifting. It made me affirm again how happy marriage has made me.

Another recent read was The Help by Atlantan Katherine Stockett. Written mostly through the eyes and views of maids living in Mississippi during the time of Jim Crow laws, it was a revealing tale of courage and discovery. Definitely worthwhile and a good summer read. All three of these are loosely based on true stories of love, friendship and self-discovery.

But the book I just read, Picking Cotton, definitely ranks on my top 10 most "jump into your heart" gripping books I have read....ever. It is a true story of Jennifer Thompson, a student at Elon College brutally raped in Burlington, NC during the 1980s. Alternating between Jennifer's perspective and Ronald Cotton's together they detail how Jennifer identified an innocent Ron as her attacker, thereby sentencing him to life in prison. After 11 years behind bars DNA evidence exonerated Ron and convicted another man of the crime. Jennifer and Ron's unlikely friendship is the ultimate testament to forgiveness against all odds.
This book should be required reading for all Americans. The fact this true story took place in my childhood backyard - Ronald Cotton served much of his jail term in Raleigh when I was in grade school - made it that much more real to me. The book read like a mystery novel even though clearly the entire plot is detailed on the cover. It is the perfect example of how technology and reformed policies and processes can make us better as a population. Had DNA not been a factor, albeit 11 years later, Ron Cotton would have spent life in prison for another man's crime. Just imagine if that was you. Or your husband. Or your son. Here is a book trailer of sorts...the book is beautifully written and you will not regret reading it.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen TV shows about the Ronald Cotton case, but watching that clip makes me want to go out and buy that book today. What a great (albeit sad) story.