Kirkus Reviews QR Code
ON MY OWN AT 107 by Sarah L. Delany


Reflections on Life without Bessie

by Sarah L. Delany & Amy Hill Hearth

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-251485-7

From Sadie, the surviving Delany sister, an inspiriting testimony to love and faith as she recalls life with Bessie and the challenge of learning to live on without her. With coauthor Hearth, who first brought the remarkable African-American Delany sisters to public attention in 1993 with their bestselling memoir Having Our Say, Sadie now describes the year following Bessie's death in September 1995. The two had been together since their distant childhood in North Carolina and all through the long remaining years in New York. As the older sister by two years, she never expected to survive Bessie: ``It doesn't seem natural that I outlived you . . . learning that I am a separate human being . . . for the first time in my life.'' But in the months ahead, Sadie does learn how to endure on her own and how to find pleasure in living. Summoning up the same religious faith that carried her through the worst excesses of Jim Crow legislation, she offers her memories of Bessie, and the conviction that Bessie is in heaven with their parents as a consolation for her grief. She punctuates her account of the passing year with comments on the flowers Bessie loved and cultivated in her garden, comforting quotations from the Bible, and what she's learned about life: ``To make the best of life, to keep trying, no matter what.'' But the same zest that made the sisters centenarian celebrities also enables Sadie to make a fulfilling life on her own. She starts writing this book, educates the young about the past, gives a party to celebrate Bessie's birthday, and is honored in turn on her 107th birthday. By the year's end, she's busy and content: ``Don't worry about me, Sister Bessie. Child, I've got plans.'' A bracing reminder from an exemplary teacher that life, a rare gift, must be savored in the living. (illustrations, not seen) ($150,000 ad/promo; TV satellite tour)