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Picking Cotton - Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton & Erin Torneo

Picking Cotton

By Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton & Erin Torneo

  • Release Date: 2010-01-05
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 258 Ratings


The New York Times best selling true story of an unlikely friendship forged between a woman and the man she incorrectly identified as her rapist and sent to prison for 11 years.

Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept. She was able to escape, and eventually positively identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. Ronald insisted that she was mistaken-- but Jennifer's positive identification was the compelling evidence that put him behind bars.

After eleven years, Ronald was allowed to take a DNA test that proved his innocence. He was released, after serving more than a decade in prison for a crime he never committed. Two years later, Jennifer and Ronald met face to face-- and forged an unlikely friendship that changed both of their lives.

With Picking Cotton, Jennifer and Ronald tell in their own words the harrowing details of their tragedy, and challenge our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.


  • Tear jerker and eye opener

    By Roseannedawn
    The book immediately pulls you in and keeps you at the edge of your seat. For me it was an emotional rollercoaster of tears, fear, relief, and happiness. It’s a great example of the judicial system and their own faults. It also refers to how the system has changed from the 70s-present. I enjoyed reading this and I know lots will as well.
  • I don't read...

    By Kentucky damsel
    I cannot put this book down. I picked this book up out of curiosity and bought it on a whim. It's amazing....
  • Powerful book

    By Loves word games
    This is a story that needs to be told. The book was riveting and an important read for everyone interested in justice.
  • Excellent

    By VSP774
  • Riveting

    By BMWSista
    I was unable to put "Picking Cotton" down. I'd seen Jennifer and Ronald on tv and immediately downloaded the book. To read how Ronald was able to forgive Jennifer even before meeting her showed what a big heart he has. To read of Jennifer's desire to meet Ronald was the beginning of admitting her fallibility, being apologetic and releasing her hate. She needed to do those things, even against the judgement of her parents and sister, in order for her to heal and be able to help others. That Ronald and Jennifer are loving friends, which brings their families together shows the magnificent work of God, Who is Love.
  • Amazing

    By kaitekirkie
    I had to read this book for my freshman English class in college and i could not put it down. It was uplifting with both Ronald and Jennifer both pushing through such hard times in their lives and letting go. I thank both of you for your strength with in god and forgiveness. You have inspired me, along with many others.
  • Fascinating Story of Forgiveness

    By Lynn C. Tolson
    Review of Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton with Erin Torneo Picking Cotton is co-authored by a victim of rape and the man who was falsely accused of the crime, with the assistance of writer Erin Torneo. The format alternates from Jennifer’s to Ronald’s perspectives and the story reads like a documentary. Picking Cotton opens with a “happily ever after” prologue that took decades to reach. The interim was an excruciating journey of mistakes and misery. Within the story, there are racial issues to explore, as well as pros and cons in the criminal justice system. The story starts with Jennifer’s point of view. After briefly establishing her routines and relationships for the readers, we see how her college life is immeasurably altered when she is raped. Jennifer endures the examination at the hospital; she has to repeatedly tell the details to detectives; she faces the disengaged attitudes of her family and boyfriend. In these relationships, the reader sees a victim-blaming society in action: Jennifer’s mother wonders if what she wore had something to do with being attacked; Jennifer’s boyfriend asks her if she enjoyed it. Jennifer courageously moves through the legal system, and eventually moves on. On the local news, Ronald sees that the police are searching for him as a suspect. Only twenty-two years old, his simple life becomes immeasurably complicated when he is arrested. He is treated as though he were already found guilty. Ronald is equally courageous as he moves through a legal system that is out to get him, no matter what. Ronald spends more than a decade in prison, acclimating to the dismal culture of those incarcerated for life. He is guilty until DNA proves him innocent. He has to start over. This book needed to be written so that readers witness the capacity of human will, the fate from human error, and the resiliency of spirit from both sides of the story. Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story