Friday, August 16

Mississippi Book Recs!

As part of our Mississippi History display, we're sharing some awesome recommendations for adult fiction and nonfiction! Swing by the Brandon Library for more.


Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

When thirteen-year-old JoJo's father is released from prison, his mother Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, legacies, violence, and love.

Find it in the CMRLS catalog here!

Paper Son by S.J. Rozan

When Lydia Chen's mother tells her a cousin Lydia didn’t know she had is in jail in Clarksdale, Mississippi—and that Lydia has to rush down south and get him out—Lydia finds herself rolling down Highway 61 with Bill Smith, her partner, behind the wheel. She soon finds that nothing in Mississippi is as she expected it to be. Including her cousin’s legal troubles—or possibly even his innocence.

Find it in the CMRLS catalog here!

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

Russell Gaines has been in Parchman penitentiary for eleven years. His sentence now up, Russell believes his debt has been paid. But when he returns home, he realizes others don't feel the same. Meanwhile, a woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate, spending their last dollar on a room for the night. By morning,  a dead deputy lies in the middle of the road, and all signs point to Maben. When their paths cross as morning dawns, Russell must decide whose life he will save—his own or those of the woman and child.

Find it in the CMRLS catalog here


Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South by Karen L. Cox

In 1932, the city of Natchez made national news when Richard Dana and Octavia Dockery--known in the press as the "Wild Man" and the "Goat Woman"--enlisted a black man named George Pearls to rob their reclusive neighbor, Jennie Merrill, at her estate. During the attempted robbery, Merrill was shot and killed.  Pearls was killed by an Arkansas policeman in an unrelated incident before he could face trial. 

However, the white community demanded "justice," and an innocent black woman named Emily Burns was ultimately sent to prison for the murder. Dana and Dockery not only avoided punishment but also lived to profit from the notoriety of the murder. Karen Cox highlights the larger ideas that made the tale so irresistible to the popular press and provides a unique lens through which to view the transformation of the plantation South into the fallen, Gothic South.

Find it in the CMRLS catalog here

Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant

Richard Grant and his girlfriend of New York City buy an old plantation house in the Mississippi Delta on a remote, isolated strip of land, three miles beyond the tiny community of Pluto, where they learn to hunt, grow their own food, fend off alligators, and more. Grant brings an adept, empathetic eye to the fascinating people he meets, capturing the rich, extraordinary culture of the Delta, while tracking its utterly bizarre and criminal extremes. Reporting from all angles as only an outsider can, Grant also delves deeply into the Delta’s lingering racial tensions. Yet even as he observes major structural problems, he encounters many close, loving, and interdependent relationships between black and white families—and good reasons for hope.

Find it in the CMRLS catalog here!

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington

Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks spent a combined thirty years in prison before finally being exonerated in 2008 for the assault and murder of two three-year-old girls in rural Mississippi while the real killer remained free. Balko and Carrington chronicle the careeres of medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne, who performed the vast majority of Mississippi's autopsies, while his friend Dr. Michael West, a local dentist, pitched himself as a forensic jack-of-all-trades. Together they became the go-to experts for prosecutors and helped put countless Mississippians in prison. But then some of those convictions--like that of Brooks and Brewer--began to fall apart. Balko and Carrington raise sobering questions about our criminal justice system's ability to address its issues with racism and forensic failures.

Find it in the CMRLS catalog here!

Summaries collected and condensed from Goodreads.

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