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In Water Thicker Than Blood, Terrell tells a story of love, family, sadness, and hurt, but mainly of the challenges we face when trying to forgive ourselves and others. Johnny Mae can never receive the love from the one person she craves, and then there's Pearl, whose midnight complexion and being overweight are a stark contrast to her honey-brown skinned and petite sister with the "good hair." Terrell's characters are believable; their flaws, missteps, and insecurities connect with us on an intimate level. We find ourselves rooting for Johnny Mae to fulfill her lifelong dream to become a clothes designer and for Pearl to gain acceptance for who she is, and we ultimately rejoice in the understanding that opportunity and unconditional love may never come by blood--but by water.