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The Memory of Cotton, by Ann K. Howley

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Product Details
COMPARE FULL RETAIL PRICE: Paperback $18.99; Ebook $5.99
ISBN eBook: 978-1-0056-9627-6
Author: Ann Howley
ISBN Paperback: 978-1-4357-7295-3

Released May 24, 2022

Fifteen-year old Shelby’s life has been spiraling out of control since her little brother died and her parents divorced. She gets in fights at school, lashes out at her mother, and can’t find a way to pull herself out of her self-centered vortex of anger, fear, and grief. When Shelby inadvertently finds her great grandfather’s Ku Klux Klan robe and a cryptic message embroidered in a family quilt, Shelby and her conflicted, gay, best guy friend drive traumatized Grandma to her hometown in North Carolina to help her make amends with the past. But the murderous secret Grandma divulges is only half the truth, and after the teens cleverly piece together other parts of the mystery, they confront her and demand to know what happened. The unexpected truth that she reveals about what Shelby’s great grandfather and the Ku Klux Klan did in 1956 shocks the kids and alters the trajectory of their lives, teaching Shelby something about the meaning of love - and no longer paralyzed by fear, Shelby discovers her inner strength and is ready to face the future.

THE MEMORY OF COTTON is a fast-paced, atmospheric story that will appeal to young adults who are looking for a story told in an authentic voice, and to all readers who are interested in social justice and historical LGBTQ issues.

Approx. 188 pages. 6" x 9". Printed on archival quality, acid-free paper.


Ann Howley's novel, The Memory of Cotton, explores relevant issues in an engaging way for teens. The book balances heavy, discussion-worthy topics with small bits of comedic relief and wisdom-filled quotations. Her flawed characters are both relatable and believable. The best YA books are those that engage young readers and make them think critically about its plot and characters; The Memory of Cotton does just that. --Anne DeGerolamo, Middle level English Language Arts teacher

I was hooked from the first page. Ann K. Howley’s writing is beautiful and the story is well crafted. She has drawn three dimensional characters and painted a background that is mysterious, visual, and relatable. The message of the book is exceptional. Kids need to know about the lesser known prejudices and racist views of the Ku Klux Klan. This is a YA book that should be read in schools. --Carrie Lee Wilson, screenwriter

Ann K. Howley takes readers on a surprising, heart-wrenching, and often humorous journey that addresses a part of history that is sometimes being silenced. A powerful and relatable story, The Memory of Cotton will prompt serious discussion on timely and sensitive issues. --Anna Marie Gire, owner of Women’s Independent Press and founder of The Authors’ Zone

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