"How I hated T. Ray, and the girls at school, but mostly myself for taking away my mother."
"I was the only one who knew that despite her sharp ways, her heart was more tender than a flower skin and she loved me beyond reason."
"She was black as could be, twisted like driftwood from being out in the weather, her face a map of all the storms and journeys she’d been through. Her right arm was raised as if she was pointing the way, except her fingers were closed in a fist. It gave her a serious look, like she could straighten you out if necessary."
Lily is a fourteen year old girl whom mother died when she was 4. She lives with her father, T.Ray, he's cruel and he treats her unrelentingly.
“It was May who did it, Zach”
Rosaleen is the only mother figure Lily knows for most of her life. She is the black housekeeper/nanny whom T. Ray pulls out of the fields to care for his daughter after his wife is killed.
"Goddamn it, Lily, this ain't funny."
August makes a living beekeeping and selling honey-based products. She is originally from Virginia, where worked as a housekeeper for Lily's mother, Deborah. August is warm, loving, energetic, and powerful, and she loves to tell stories.
“We can’t be together now, Lily, but one day, after I’ve gone away and become somebody, I’m gonna find you, and we’ll be together then”
May was one of a set of twins, and her twin sister April committed suicide long before Lily came to the Boatright house. May also suffers from depression, and because of this, her sisters, June and August, keep an eye on her.
T. Ray is Lily's father, a bitter, cruel man who takes his anger out on Lily. The source of that anger is Deborah's abandonment. From August, Lily learns that T. Ray was once deeply in love with Lily's mother, but they were totally unsuited for each other.
Zach is a talented, smart young man who has many qualities but is treated unfairly due to his skin color. He has a goal of becoming a lawyer. Lily loved him.