Category Archives: Collected Book Quotes

Collected Quotes: Born a Crime – Stories from a South African Childhood

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Chapters will be added over the course of tomorrow

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Part 1

“Sun’qhela is a phrase with many shades of meaning. It says “don’t undermine me,” “don’t underestimate me,” and “just try me.”
“Chapter 1: Run” Location 182-184


“She wanted to do something, figured out a way to do it, and then she did it. She had a level of fearlessness that you have to possess to take on something like she did. If you stop to consider the ramifications, you’ll never do anything.”
“Chapter 2: Born a Crime” Location 360-362


Language brings with it an identity and a culture, or at least the perception of it. A shared language says “We’re the same.” A language barrier says “We’re different.”
“Chapter 3: Trevor Pray” Location 750-751


“[…] when I was forced to choose, I chose black. The world saw me as colored, but I didn’t spend my life looking at myself. I spent my life looking at other people. I saw myself as the people around me, and the people around me were black. My cousins are black, my mom is black, my gran is black. I grew up black. Because I had a white father, because I’d been in white Sunday school, I got along with the white kids, but I didn’t belong with the white kids. I wasn’t a part of their tribe. But the black kids embraced me. “Come along,” they said. “You’re rolling with us.” With the black kids, I wasn’t constantly trying to be. With the black kids, I just was.”
Chapter 4: Chameleon — Location 919-924


“[…] a knowledgeable man is a free man, or at least a man who longs for freedom.”
Chapter 4: Chameleon — Location 930-931


“British racism said, ‘If the monkey can walk like a man and talk like a man, then perhaps he is a man.’ Afrikaner racism said, ‘Why give a book to a monkey?'”
Chapter 4: Chameleon — Location 945-946


“So many black families spend all of their time trying to fix the problems of the past. That is the curse of being black and poor, and it is a curse that follows you from generation to generation. My mother calls it “the black tax.” Because the generations who came before you have been pillaged, rather than being free to use your skills and education to move forward, you lose everything just trying to bring everyone behind you back up to zero.”
Chapter 5: The Second Girl — Location 997-1000


“Learn from your past and be better because of your past.”
Chapter 5: The Second Girl — Location 1007-1007


As modestly as we lived at home, I never felt poor because our lives were so rich with experience.
Chapter 5: The Second Girl — Location 1112-1113


We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.
Chapter 5: The Second Girl — Location 1126-1127


“[…] remember the thing that caused the trauma, but I don’t hold on to the trauma. I never let the memory of something painful prevent me from trying something new. If you think too much about the ass-kicking your mom gave you, or the ass-kicking that life gave you, you’ll stop pushing the boundaries and breaking the rules. It’s better to take it, spend some time crying, then wake up the next day and move on. You’ll have a few bruises and they’ll remind you of what happened and that’s okay. But after a while the bruises fade, and they fade for a reason—because now it’s time to get up to some shit again.”
Chapter 6: Loopholes — Location 1388-1392


Being chosen is the greatest gift you can give to another human being.
Chapter 8: Robert — Location 1636-1637


You’re having sex with a woman in her mind before you’re having sex with her in her vagina.
Chapter 9: The Mulberry Tree — Location 1853-1854


[…] foreplay begins during the day. It doesn’t begin in the bedroom.
Chapter 9: The Mulberry Tree — Location 1854-1855


I wasn’t popular, but I wasn’t an outcast. I was everywhere with everybody, and at the same time I was all by myself.
Chapter 11: Outsider — Location 2016-2017


I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.
Chapter 11: Outsider — Location 2021-2024


In Germany, no child finishes high school without learning about the Holocaust. Not just the facts of it but the how and the why and the gravity of it—what it means. As a result, Germans grow up appropriately aware and apologetic. British schools treat colonialism the same way, to an extent. Their children are taught the history of the Empire with a kind of disclaimer hanging over the whole thing. “Well, that was shameful, now wasn’t it?” In South Africa, the atrocities of apartheid have never been taught that way. We weren’t taught judgment or shame. We were taught history the way it’s taught in America. In America, the history of racism is taught like this: “There was slavery and then there was Jim Crow and then there was Martin Luther King Jr. and now it’s done.” It was the same for us. “Apartheid was bad. Nelson Mandela was freed. Let’s move on.” Facts, but not many, and never the emotional or moral dimension. It was as if the teachers, many of whom were white, had been given a mandate. “Whatever you do, don’t make the kids angry.”
Chapter 14: A Young Man’s Long, Awkward, Occasionally Tragic, and Frequently Humiliating Education in Affairs of the Hearty, Pat III: The Dance — Location 2555-2563


People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.
Chapter 15: Go Hitler! — Location 2655-2657


People say, “Oh, that’s a handout.” No. I still have to work to profit by it.
Chapter 15: Go Hitler! — Location 2659-2659


He has been given more potential, but he has not been given more opportunity. He has been given an awareness of the world that is out there, but he has not been given the means to reach it.
Chapter 16: The Cheese Boys — Location 2909


We like to believe we live in a world of good guys and bad guys, and in the suburbs it’s easy to believe that, because getting to know a career criminal in the suburbs is a difficult thing. But then you go to the hood and you see there are so many shades in between. In the hood, gangsters were your friends and neighbors. You knew them. You talked to them on the corner, saw them at parties. They were a part of your world. You knew them from before they became gangsters. It wasn’t, “Hey, that’s a crack dealer.” It was, “Oh, little Jimmy’s selling crack now.”
Chapter 16: The Cheese Boys — Location 2909


When you’re trying to stretch your money, food is where you have to be careful. You have to plan or you’ll eat your profits.
Chapter 16: The Cheese Boys — Location 3006-3007


The biggest thing in the hood is that you have to share. You can’t get rich on your own. You have money? Why aren’t you helping people? The old lady on the block needs help, everyone pitches in. You’re buying beer, you buy beer for everyone. You spread it around. Everyone must know that your success benefits the community in one way or another, or you become a target.
Chapter 16: The Cheese Boys — Location 3092-3096


[…] comfort can be dangerous. Comfort provides a floor but also a ceiling.
Chapter 16: The Cheese Boys — Location 3100-3100


Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” He was so right. When you make the effort to speak someone else’s language, even if it’s just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, “I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being.”
Chapter 17: The World Doesn’t Love You — Location 3372-3375


The way my mother always explained it, the traditional man wants a woman to be subservient, but he never falls in love with subservient women. He’s attracted to independent women. “He’s like an exotic bird collector,” she said. “He only wants a woman who is free because his dream is to put her in a cage.”
Chapter 18: My Mother’s Life — Location 3626-3629


Love is a creative act. When you love someone you create a new world for them. My mother did that for me, and with the progress I made and the things I learned, I came back and created a new world and a new understanding for her.
Chapter 18: My Mother’s Life — Location 3782


Growing up in a home of abuse, you struggle with the notion that you can love a person you hate, or hate a person you love. It’s a strange feeling. You want to live in a world where someone is good or bad, where you either hate them or love them, but that’s not how people are.
Chapter 18: My Mother’s Life — Location 3847


My cry was not a cry of sadness. It was not catharsis. It wasn’t me feeling sorry for myself. It was an expression of raw pain that came from an inability of my body to express that pain in any other way, shape, or form.
Chapter 18: My Mother’s Life — Location 3996


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Collected Quotes: All The Ugly and Wonderful Things

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[…] he left spaces for me when he talked. If I saw him again, I decided I might put words in those spaces.
— “Chapter 4: Wavy.” All The Ugly And Wonderful Things: A Novel – Page 26


You make people interested in you by keeping secrets, not by passing them out like candy at Halloween.
“Part 5/ Chapter 1: Renee – September 1987” Page 263


No woman had ever looked at me the way she did, or touched me that way. Like she wanted me, like I was worth wanting.
“Part 5/ Chapter 14: Kellen – July 1990” Page 313


[…] there was no sense in rushing toward being dead. It would find you soon enough, and before it did there were pleasures to make your heart hurt less.

“Part 4/Chapter 11: Wavy – 1986” Page 248


I loved how kissing made me soft between my legs but it made him hard in the same place. It was wonderful magic.

“Part 3/Chapter 12: Wavy – March to June 1983” Page 194


If he wouldn’t touch me, that was bearable, but to have him look away from me wasn’t. I needed him to see me.
“Part 3/Chapter 12: Wavy – March to June 1983” Page 191

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Collected Book Quotes: Everything, Everything

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Most people are good with their bodies or their minds but not both.
— “First Contact, Part Three.” Everything, Everything


Our bodies are having their own conversation separate and apart from us. Is this the difference between friendship and something else? This awareness that I have of him?
— “Forecast.” Everything, Everything


I try to ignore the feelings that surface when I think about them. There’s sadness that’s not quite sadness, and then guilt. ‘It’s weird to miss something you’ve never had-or don’t remember having, anyway.
— “Forecast.” Everything, Everything


I nod slowly, certain I agree with what he’s saying now, but equally certain that I’m going to disagree with whatever’s next.
— “Forecast.” Everything, Everything


I want to say something, not just something, but the perfect thing to comfort him, to make him forget his family for a few minutes, but I can’t think of it. This is why people touch. sometimes words are just not enough.
— “Olly Says.” Everything, Everything


Isn’t growing apart a part of growing up?
— “A Tale of Two Maddys.” Everything, Everything


Asymptote: A wish that continually approaches but never achieves fulfillment.
— “Madeline’s Dictionary.” Everything, Everything


It’s a strange thing to realize that you’re willing to die. It doesn’t come in a flash, a sudden epiphany. It happens slowly, a balloon leak in reverse.
— “Half Life.” Everything, Everything


Sometimes you do things for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong ones and sometimes it’s impossible to tell the difference.
— “Other Worlds” Everything, Everything


They tried to stop me. They said it wasn’t worth my life, but I said that it was my life, and it was up to me to decide what it was worth. I said I was going to go and either I was going to die or I was going to get a better life.
— “Infected.” Everything, Everything


Promise: The lie you want to keep.
— “Madeline’s Dictionary.” Everything, Everything


I turn in his arms, thinking how quickly it’s become my favorite place in the world. Familiar, foreign, comforting, and thrilling all at once.
— “Remembrance of Things Present.”


In my head I know I’ve been in love before, but it doesn’t feel like it. Being in love with you is better than the first time. It feels like the first time and the last time and the only time all at once.
— “The Murphy Bed.” Everything, Everything


Infinite: The state of not knowing where one body ends and another begins.
— “Madeline’s dictionary.” Everything, Everything


I once told Olly that I know my heart better than I knew anything else, and it’s still true. I know the places in my heart, but the names have all changed.
— “Geography.” Everything, Everything


Nothing hurts except my heart, but I’m trying not to use it. I keep the blinds closed. I read my books. Existential or nihilist ones. I have no patience for books that pretend life has meaning. I have no patience for happy endings.
— “Pretending.” Everything, Everything


My heart is too bruised and I want to keep the pain as a reminder. I don’t want sunlight on it. I don’t want it to heal. Because if it does, I might be tempted to use it again.
— “Reunion.” Everything, Everything


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Collected Quotes: Around The Way Girl

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[…] what I look for in a friend: Loyalty and trust. The challenge to be a better me. The space to be unapologetically rough, rugged, and raw. I’m not biting my tongue around them, and while I know they won’t judge, I can trust them not to tell me what they think I want to hear. They work me, which I appreciate because it leaves the space for me to be me. This is important, because being fake with the ones I love isn’t an option – I’m not that girl. I get paid to pretend, but I won’t do it in my real-life relationships.
— “Chapter 12: My Squad.” Around the Way Girl – Page 221


I’m […] great at maintaining friendships, but when their shelf life expires, [I] have no problem tossing those expired friendships in the trash where they belong.
— “Chapter 12: My Squad.” Around the Way Girl – Page 225


[…] the natural inclination of adults is to devalue the dreams of kids who express an interest in pursuing the arts. Let a kid show any kind of special aptitude for math or science, and the world will move mountains to put him in programs that stimulate his gift. The same goes for children who express even a remote interest in subjects society thinks will lead them toward careers we all tend to consider exceptional: doctor, lawyer, professor, engineer, or if it’s the arts, a classical musician and the like. Hardly anyone ever encourages the child who can’t sit still, or who runs her mouth a little too much or who lets her imagination soar, to do what is perfectly natural and right to her: consider acting, singing, dancing, or otherwise make a living performing. […] it seems such a wasted opportunity, so incredibly unjust to steer a kid away from what makes his heart sing.
“Chapter 3: Drama.” Around The Way Girl – Pages 47-48


[…] fear is a liar [and] I make a point of calling its bluff.
“Chapter 1: Fearless” Around The Way Girl

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Collected Quotes: Hurry Down Sunshine

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[…] a paradox of psychiatry: mental illness is recognized by the patient’s distorted thoughts, but treatment is largely indifferent to their content.
— Hurry Down Sunshine | Page – 104


[…] the same words that her eyes could not decipher on the page, her tongue, freed from the fixed symbols of language, mastered with a deftness that allowed for puns, recitations, arguments, speeches, if she deigned to deliver them-all attesting to a bewilderingly sharp intelligence.
— Hurry Down Sunshine | Page 7


[…] madness. What other disease is verifiable solely from the social affect of its victim?
Hurry Down Sunshine | Page – 87


If [she] had been in an accident or come down with some overtly physical disease, I would not hesitate to tell him about it, confident that his sympathies would flow in my direction as a matter of course. But psychosis defies empathy; few people who have not experienced it up close but the idea of a behavioral disease. It has the ring of an excuse, a license for self-absorption on the most extreme scale. It suggests that one chooses madness and not the other way around. [Like] when [some] refer to someone as ‘crazy,’ [they] mean uninhibited, rebellious, creative. It’s a form of praise.
“Hurry Down Sunshine.” Pages – 86 to 87


[…] I feel as if I’ve been struck with social amnesia, that my facility for casual conversation, for the necessary small talk that greases the wheel of reasonable cooperative exchange, has been lost.
“Hurry Down Sunshine.” Pages 67


[…]I have little faith to draw from, either in medicine or God.
“Hurry Down Sunshine.” Pages 57


Symptoms feel like intricate secrets; causes are elusive, cures unknown.
“Hurry Down Sunshine.” Pages 56


[…] how does one defeat […] a disease without defeating oneself?
“Hurry Down Sunshine.” Page 50


Her evolution. Her journey. I wanted to believe […]. I wanted to believe in her breakthrough, her victory, the delayed efflorescence of her mind. But how does one tell the difference between Plato’s ‘divine madness’ and gibberish? between enthousiamos (literally, to be inspired by a god) and lunacy? between the prophet and the ‘medically mad?’
“Hurry Down Sunshine.” Page 49


‘Put her away.’ The phrase has its impact. […] ‘We’ll have to put you away. Do you want to be put away?’ Like some unwanted household object, I used to think, that for vague reasons of moral attachment can’t be discarded outright.
“Hurry Down Sunshine.” Page 48


Permitted. Required. The language of punishment.
“Hurry Down Sunshine.” Page 46


We all fear at some point that ‘our’ world and ‘the’ world are hopelessly estranged.
“Hurry Down Sunshine.” Page 38


The truth comes disguised as suffering.
— “Hurry Down Sunshine.” – Page 128


How does the man apologize for the boy?
— “Hurry Down Sunshine.” – Page 132


If what I say ends up sounding like a complaint, then I’m saying it wrong.
— “Hurry Down Sunshine.” – Page 133


I couldn’t accept the fact that [she] was so nonchalant about her natural talents, while I was struggling to figure out whether I possessed any at all.
— “Hurry Down Sunshine.” – Page 148


The matter of who exactly she is now after her manic attack continues to pester [her]. At home, she asks, ‘Does this mean that everything I believe while I was crazy is bullshit?’ How much must she repudiate? How does she sort out what she can safely keep from her mania, and what she has to discard?
— “Hurry Down Sunshine.” Page – 209

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