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From Tara Westover's book (Educated). I cannot understand the meaning of "Holy hell!" in the phrase below:

He asked where I was studying; when I answered, he said, “Harvard! Holy hell!”

And I don't know what's the relationship between it and the next line:

it was true. He had always seen me like that, long before there was any reason to.

A FEW DAY S LATER, I signed in to an old chat program I hadn’t used in years. There was a cheerful jingle and a name turned from gray to green. Charles is online, it said. I’m not sure who started the chat, or who suggested moving the conversation to the phone. We talked for an hour, and it was as if no time had passed. He asked where I was studying; when I answered, he said, “Harvard! Holy hell!” “Who woulda thought?” I said. “I did,” he said, and it was true. He had always seen me like that, long before there was any reason to.

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It's an expression that can indicate a few different feelings. I would say that it signals his surprise in this case. He's amazed that she's studying at Harvard.

"Who would have thought?" is also another expression of surprise. She's also suggesting that it's surprising that she's studying there. But this is a rhetorical question. No answer is expected. However, he answers it by saying "I did." In other words, he would have thought that she'd be studying there. I see "it was true" as a comment on his personality. She's saying that it's true that he is the kind of person who would have thought that about her. Why does she believe that? Because "He had always seen [her] like that, long before there was any reason to."

  • Many thanks! Could you please tell me what the meaning of "Have you ever thought maybe you should just let them go?” is? The full text is here: I told him about Shawn, how I’d lost him, how I was losing the rest of my family. He listened quietly, then let out a long sigh and said, “Have you ever thought maybe you should just let them go?” I hadn’t, not once. “It’s not permanent,” I said. “I can fix it.” – Peace Jun 21 '18 at 11:06
  • I have problem with : "you should just let them go" – Peace Jun 21 '18 at 11:07
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    @Peace Charles is suggesting that she have to let them go, forget about her family. If she had lost her brother, she should "lost" the rest of her family too and stop worrying about them. – RubioRic Jun 21 '18 at 11:22
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    @Peace It roughly means "forget them, abandon them, disassociate yourself from them". Keep in mind, it's better to make a new post to ask a different question (instead of asking in the comments). Also, please consider waiting longer before accepting an answer. – Em. Jun 21 '18 at 11:23

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