Why This Bestselling Author Had to Go on Food Stamps

For Oprah’s very first book club selection in 1996, she chose The Deep End of the Ocean by first-time author Jacquelyn Mitchard. The book was an instant hit—selling more than 5 million copies and transforming Jacquelyn from a struggling widow with four children to a multimillionaire.

But when Jacquelyn fell victim to a Ponzi scheme, she lost her dream home and her fortune. Even worse, she faced public shame.

“People were very unkind about it,” she says, “and people were angry at me in someway for having been the plucky little widow who pulled herself up by the bootstraps and made this big splash. They felt as if I had somehow betrayed all of them—the readers who believed in me and believed in my career. I understand that, and I felt enormous shame and pain about it.”

In what Jacquelyn says was a “stunning” moment, she turned to food stamps for help. Watch the above video as she describes the experience and why it was ultimately freeing.

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