Lori: What I admire about your work is that you take on what's a really tough thing to communicate, which is, I think, the nature of mother-daughter bonds. It's very difficult to really articulate how close and how deep they are. ... Maybe [Hannah is] overwhelmed that someone could love her that much, but at the same time it's frightening that [her mother, Eva] would have the capacity to love [her] that much. Unconditional love.
Toni: Do I really deserve that?
Oprah: That is so significant when Hannah says to Eva, 'Mama, did you ever love us?' Oh, don't you love that? Because I think her explanation is everything every woman, mother, ever wanted to say and didn't. You know, because now we live in a generation where it's 'hug your kids, love your kids.'
Evelyn: Let me tell you, reading this book made me appreciate my mother so much. I love my mother. Sometimes I don't tell her enough that I love her. I love the things about her. Her strength.
Lori: I wonder when Hannah poses that question to her, 'Why didn't you ever play with us?' if it's because on some level she realizes and is overwhelmed by the depth of love that her mother has and this is almost inconceivable. You come back to it: 'I can't believe that a human being loves me so much.'
Toni: She's trying to negotiate this whole thing about love. 'Did you ever love us? Why didn't you say so?' You know, her daughter just wants to know, 'Was this ever really love?' And all she can say is, 'I stayed alive...for you.'
Were the women in the book bad mothers?
Oprah: Was it you who said in your letter, Lori, all of these women in their own way were trying to do what was best for their daughters?
Oprah: And there's a whole culture of women who have done that.
Lori: Absolutely. They don't talk about it.
Oprah: They want you to behave a certain way and look a certain way.
Toni: Yes, the best they knew how to be.
Oprah: They did the best they could with what they knew how to do.
Toni: And that's what we all do, and we hope that the next generation figures out something else. Or more. Or certainly respects the limitations and the power of the one that preceded them. All that's hidden in this book.