Here is how Grace and TJ's paths crossed in the small town of Endurance.
To her astonishment, Ms. Kimball showed up at her house one day after school and talked to her and her mother. They sat down with fresh lemonade and cookies. When her mama explained that Teresa was unhappy in the class, Grace assured her that TJ should be there. "And what do you want with a skinny-ass black girl in this white bread class?" TJ asked with appropriate sarcasm.
That was when Grace made them both a promise. "Your daughter has great potential. She's smart and reads and writes beautifully. If she works hard, takes college prep classes, and does well on her college entrance tests, she can write her own ticket to college."
"And who's gonna pay for this ticket?" Mama asked.
"She'll get scholarships."
"We don't accept no charity," Mama mumbled.
"This wouldn't be charity. It would be recognition that she has great promise and our world can use her talents. It would be a chance for her to find out what she can do."
"We've done been promised before."
"This time will be different. Intelligence, hard work, perseverance; they will pay off. Let her try it just one year and see what happens."
So Mama said "yes" and the sulky TJ was captured in Grace Kimball's net.
After that the world opened. TJ read Richard Wright's Native Son and Black Boy and intriguing books about other worlds like those of Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet. She read books by and about strong women. After high school she won a scholarship to the state university where she began by majoring in English, but then she fell in love with law enforcement and decided she had found her niche. After college she took the police exam for Endurance and came home to keep an eye on her mama.