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Jacquelyn Mitchard

Jacquelyn Mitchard

Author | ‘The Deep End of the Ocean’ | Class of 1973

Long before Oprah chose her novel as the very first selection for her book club and Michelle Pfeiffer played the lead in the movie adaptation, “The Deep End of the Ocean” author Jacquelyn Mitchard (BA ’73) spent many a Sunday night by her lonesome. 

“I can’t remember the name of the Italian restaurant, but it was on Green Street and I would save up my money to try to go there once a week. I usually went by myself, not with a friend, because I was often sad or homesick on Sunday nights, missing my family back on the west side of Chicago, missing all the boisterous kids I’d grown up with who were having their big pasta dinners with their families at that time.

“At this little restaurant, which was owned by a family headed up by an older fellow, I learned skills that would be useful to me for the rest of my life — how to be comfortable as a woman eating a meal alone, reading a newspaper or a book, how to understand that a Sunday-night dinner was a ritual of peace and appreciation.

"When I picture myself back in Champaign-Urbana, I picture myself in that booth, facing the dark-glassed windows, reading my book, savoring my spaghetti, not daring to think too deeply into the future or the past, but safe and content in a moment that felt like home.”