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Bell: 1975


Bell's moths beat their knife wings in her chest. The pain was astonishing. Her limbs went slack and her eyes close, and she was suddenly thrust into a sludgy half-conscious darkness from which she was sure she would not return.

Oprah's note:
This whole chapter on Bell took my breath away. I was so enraptured by her words it made it almost impossible to highlight just one or two passages.

Hattie came every day.

Oprah's note:
What a simple powerful sentence, speaking to the fierce love and forgiveness that Hattie had that we hadn't seen since Philadelphia and Jubilee.

Cassie: 1980


I hear everything now: the kitten's shallow breathing, the men bending over the ditch, the cars whooshing by, the tree branches crackling in the woods, the tires against the road, the birds tweeting, the sandpaper sound of the air against my skin, the grass blowing, my labored breathing. All of it rushes at me, horribly articulated. I put out my hand to steady myself against the onslaught.

Oprah's note:
I love that crazy Cassie, and you can sense that the author has had firsthand experience of mental illness with someone. She's been in there, dealt with it somehow.

Sala: 1980


Hattie put her arm around Sala and pulled her close; she patted her granddaughter's back roughly, unaccustomed as she was, to tenderness.

Oprah's note:
I have to tell you, that last sentence—It silenced me. Right now, rereading it, I want to cry again. You know why? Because it says it's never too late to change. After all that hardness, all of that repression, depression, oppression—there was still room for a little piece of light in the form of a granddaughter.

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