Cultured, attractive, and strong-willed, Shelby Collins is mature for a sixteen-year-old. Her family lives in Cartersville, Georgia. Her mother has taken a trip to Alabama to tend Shelby's ailing grandmother. Shelby has been left at home to care for her younger brother and sister and to see to the needs of her father. One night her father, who has come home drunk, tries to molest her. Frightened, she fights him off and flees, but it isn't long before her angry father tracks her down and places her in a reform school in distant Birmingham. While Shelby is able to make a new life for herself in Birmingham, she suffers greatly. But, through her many difficulties, she learns that blessings can come in unexpected ways. This poignant and heart-warming vel addresses several fundamental human longings. Is there an overshadowing influence for good that can help direct our lives? Can we learn to trust again after we've been betrayed? Is there a power that can come into our hearts to help us forgive?
Sandra Poole grew up in Alder Springs, Alabama, the setting for this novel. Her daughter and co-author, Jennifer Leigh Youngblood, was also born in Alabama. Livin'in High Cotton is a story that was inspired by the life of Sandra's grandmother.