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By Mary Perrine


Discussion Questions



According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 20% of women recall an incident of sexual assault or sexual incident as a child. (5-10% of men recalled a sexual abuse incident.)

  1. Why did Claire not share her experience with her mother? Michael? Karen? Also, why did Jade not tell Claire?

  2. Why do you believe most victims don’t tell someone about their abuse? What impact does this have on the victim and/or others?



In most societies, elders are meant to be revered and respected. Because of this belief, they often hold power over children.

  1. Several characters in the story used their power for evil. Why? What might have made each of them negatively use their power?

  2. Why do we allow others to have power over us? How can we protect children from abusive adults and peers? As adults, how can we keep others from having power over us?



The need for control is often deeply embedded in anxiety. It may be situational or it may be generalized.

  1. In what ways did Claire try to control situations with others? What worked? What didn’t work? Why?

  2. It is often events from our past that create our anxiety and, therefore, our need to control certain situations. As you have aged, are you becoming more or less controlling? What do you believe is causing this change?



All people have internal struggles. Depending on how we deal with those struggles, they can make us bitter or better.

  1. What internal struggles did each character deal with? How did those struggles impact each of them and the people around them?

  2. How do you keep your internal struggles from taking over your life? What words of advice can you offer others?



Communication may be verbal, non-verbal, or visual.

  1. How did the lack of communication between the characters impact their relationships? Where in the story did you see communication break down?

  2. In today’s world, we are overwhelmed with the amount of communication we receive through various forms of media: television, radio, social media, online news, etc. How has this overload impacted personal communication in families and between friends? What about the public in general?


Because we all have different perspectives, what we see and experience as our truth may be different than what someone else sees or experiences in the same situation. The truth may include facts (information that can be proven), but it may also include personal feelings and emotions.

  1. Why did Tess choose to hide the truth from Claire until it was too late to answer her daughter’s questions? How might Claire’s entire life have been different had she known the truth from early on?

  2. Are there truths/secrets you learned about much later in life? How did that new knowledge impact you? Do you wish the truth had been handled differently? Why?



It is human nature to judge others. Judgment, however, is a form of discrimination. It can be frustrating, humiliating, hurtful, and demeaning for the individual on the receiving end—especially if the judgments are based on lies or misunderstandings.

  1. Which characters in the story may have felt judged? Why did people judge them? Keep in mind some people may not have known they were being judged.

  2. Have you ever misjudged someone or something in the past? Have you been judged by someone? How did you handle the situation? How did it make you feel—both to be judged and to judge someone else?



Confrontation can be a positive thing if done with respect and honesty, and it is delivered in a way that does not belittle the other person.

  1. Once Claire had her own family, she viewed confrontation differently than her mother did. What examples in the book demonstrate this? Why do you believe they took such differing approaches?

  2. Is your approach more like Tess’s or Claire’s? Why? Has your approach worked for you? Why or why not? Is there anything you wish you would change? Has your approach changed over time?



It is normal to grieve the loss of people, pets, situations, things, etc. However, the way we grieve is unique to each of us.

  1. In the book, what did each character grieve? How did each person exhibit their grief?

  2. What is something you have grieved? What did your grief look like? What helped you move past your grief?



Compassion means having empathy for a person or situation; it also evokes the feeling of wanting to help alleviate the pain a person is feeling.

  1. How did different characters in the book show compassion for others?

  2. How does showing compassion impact the giver and the receiver? Can you recall a situation where receiving compassion affected you personally? Explain.



Choose one character:

Young Mary Claire, Tess, Edward, Adult Claire, Michael, Karen, Matt, Will Ryan, Jade, or Henry.


What one word would you use to describe the character you selected? Why?


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