For Book Clubs: Discussion Questions

Literary Analysis

  1. Why was this title chosen for the book?
  2. How does the cover art reflect the themes in the book? If you don’t think it does, what would you depict on the cover if you were the editor and jacket designer?
  3. What was unique about the setting of the book and how did it enhance or take away from the story?
  4. What specific themes did the author emphasize throughout the novel? What do you think she is trying to communicate to the reader?
  5. What are the major conflicts in the story?
  6. Who are the prominent characters in the book?
  7. Do the characters seem real and believable? Can you relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?
  8. How do characters change, grow or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
  9. In what ways do the events in the books reveal evidence of the author's world view?
  10. Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way?
  11. Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?
  12.  If the author were to write a sequel to this book, what do you think would happen to the characters?
  13. How would you react if you were in the same situation as Mara?
  14. Did the storyline change your opinion about sexual abuse and its effects? How?

Plot Analysis

  1. David has kept a secret since childhood. Have you ever kept a secret from someone you love? How did it affect your relationship?
  2. Why do you think David is so resolute about keeping his secret?
  3. What were some opportunities David had to speak truth? Why do you think he declined to do so?
  4. Who was in a position to interrupt David’s downward spiral? Do you think there is anything they might have done differently to help break the cycle?
  5. How would you define the key stages of David’s character development, and how did you feel about his character at each of those stages?
  6. In addition to David and the secret of his sexual abuse, what were some of the other secrets and secret keepers in this story? Why did they keep their secrets?
  7. What were some of the costs to each character of their secrets?
  8. What were some ways that David sought to compensate for his low sense of self-worth?
  9. What are some examples of how David’s ability to experience intimacy in relationships was damaged by past abuse?
  10. Why did Mara encounter such difficulty garnering support from her friends and loved ones?
  11. How did Mara evolve over the course of the story, and how did you react to her at each stage?

Issue Analysis (Sexual Abuse)

  1. What did you learn about how childhood abuse manifests in the adult lives of male survivors, based on David’s story?
  2. How are others in David’s life impacted by his abuse?
  3. What factors do you believe contributed to David’s ultimate demise? Was there a point in the story where you thought a different ending might be possible? Why or why not?
  4. What insights did you gain about childhood sexual abuse and its effects?
  5. What connections did you make between childhood sexual abuse and ripple effects in adulthood that survivors and others might miss?
  6. How might you approach a conversation with someone you suspect may be suffering from the effects of past sexual abuse?
  7. What connections do you make to past sexual abuse and sexual addictions? Do you agree or disagree with the author’s thinking?
  8. Talk about your understanding of denial after reading this book as an effect of sexual abuse. What do you think can be done to change this instinct among survivors?

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