June 1, 2009
Review #18 – In the Land of Cotton – Martha A. Taylor
It was in 1956 that a young white girl, Martha, living in the Deep South, began her journey of discovery into a land and time where lives seemed simple and free on the surface, but were really underneath it all inundated with tension, unfairness and unrest.
Martha’s family enlisted the help of a black woman in their home who soon became an important part of Martha’s daily life. Being an inquisitive youngster, Martha decides to quietly follow the woman one day to her home and discovers a family living on the land that is quite different from her own. Thus begins her remarkable journey and education, that brings her back to the forest on numerous occasions as she befriends and builds strong relationships with the black family. Martha learns that although slavery has been long ago abolished, many things in the small community, and the world around her, are still quite unjust and the rut created by the racial divide is still apparent.
Martha Taylor expertly weaves a lovely, emotional, story that first intrigues the reader who glances at the synopsis, (thinking it is a fiction story) and learns about a girl who discovers a primitive black family living in the forest. Thus the story holds the reader’s attention, who then comes to realize the truth throughout reading the entire story, and is hooked until the bittersweet ending. This is not only a tale about Martha and the lovely family that she discovers and her struggle to live through and understand racial inequality. There is also extensive highlights of current events in our nation in the mid 50’s to the 60’s included in the story such as continued racial prejudice, Martin Luther King’s strive towards equality and the Vietnam war. This story serves as an outstanding example of how America was still living with racial hatred and inequality, despite the positive efforts made to abolish slavery roughly a hundred years earlier.