Set against the Mississippi of the late 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, author Norma Watkins gives a mesmerizing look into her unconventional childhood in The Last Resort: Taking the Mississippi Cure. Tackling issues such as racism in America, and roles of women in society, Watkins weaves the tale of how her own life was shaped by the social movements of the day.
The memoir begins with a young Watkins and her family relocating to Allison’s Wells, the family run hotel and day spa. While not particularly happy with the change in location, Watkins has no choice, as she is only a child with no say in the matter. While initially furious for having to leave all she knows behind, Watkins soon finds her place among the bustling hotel and spa that caters to upper and middle class whites. It is here, at such a young age that Watkins begins to formulate her own view of a world where Jim Crow rules, and skin color regulates every aspect of life.
“In Mississippi, I learned that people cannot be reasoned out of bigotry or ignorance. Arguing only makes them dig in,” Watkins said in a statement. “To change people’s minds, you have to change their hearts.”
After years of being indoctrinated with the hate and racism of her relatives and ancestors, Watkins begins yearns for a change. Following the beaten path of so many girls-turned-housewives, Watkins soon finds herself in a loveless marriage with four children. As the civil rights movement begins to gain support, Watkins finds herself trapped between her desperate need to be an advocate for change, and her duties as wife and mother. However, when opportunity knocks, Watkins makes some of the most daring decisions of her life. Forsaking family, friends, and lovers, she sets out on remarkable journey to find her own truth.
Final Thoughts: Courageous woman follows her heart as she fights for equality for all.