Please feel free to use these book discussion questions with your reading group or book club. If you make up your own, please let me know and I’ll add them here.
Book Discussion Questions – Passing through Perfect
1) The time period for this book is after World War II. It’s important to understand African Americans standing in the US during the time period in Passing through Perfect. Take a moment to share with your group or club your recollection of the issues and problems faced by people of color.
2) What strengths did Benjamin bring back from serving in the military? How did this help him in the story?
3) Why do you think Delia’s family reacted the way they did to Benjamin?
4) The neighbors change their attitude/behavior toward Benjamin in one part of the story. Do you know anyone who has changed their attitude/behavior (including your own) over the issue of race?
5) What in Paul’s background do you feel made him connect with Benjamin and want to help?
Previously Loved Treasures is Book TWO of The Serendipity Series. Book ONE is the Twelfth Child, although both books are stand-alone stories there is one thing that ties Book ONE to Book TWO but you don’t need to read them in order. Feel free to use these discussion questions with your book group or club.
1) Previously Loved Treasures is set in the late 1980’s. Do you think this time frame shows in the story? Would the story have worked in another time period? Why or why not?
2) How important a role does food play in the story? Was it effective in drawing you into the story or not?
3) Ida waited to find her son, do you think she waited too long? Do you think there was something else she could have done differently to work out their relationship?
4) In the story we have some idea why Ida’s son didn’t contact his father, Big Jim, but what reason do you feel he used for not staying in contact with his mother?
5) Why did Caroline leave everything behind? Would you have acted sooner or waited longer to make a change? Is change easy or hard for you?
6) Ida was well-equipped to put her miscellaneous skills to work on making extra money. What skills do you have that could be used to make extra money in your life if you had to?
7) Do you feel Max could have been reasoned with? Was there something Ida could have done to make the transition easier? Should Ida have opened her home to him at all even though he was family?
8) Why do you think Caroline made the spontaneous decision to help a mother and child? If she had not intervened, what do you think would have happened to the family?
9) Wilbur wished he’d done something sooner after Ida died. Is there something you wish you’d done before it was too late? The story does have a theme of it is never too late. Do you agree? Why or why not?
10) Caroline worked but had a dream of being/doing something else. Is there a difference between what you do to make a living and what you dream of doing? Caroline doesn’t fulfill that dream by the end of the story, is it okay to dream of doing something but not act on it? Why or why not?
Book Discussion Questions for What Matters Most
Clay and Louise have very different ideas of what retirement means. What does retirement mean to you?
What things/people would you miss if you had to relocate?
How did you feel about Louise’s attempts to get back to New Jersey?
How did Clay change moving from New Jersey to Florida? Do you think he was satisfied with the change?
What was the turning point for Louise in Florida that made her more comfortable?
What was the funniest thing Louise did to get back to New Jersey?
In the end do you think Clay made the right decision to move to Florida?
If you had to relocate and then went back ten years later, how do you think that place would have changed?
Louise’s best friend, Billie, is in trouble and she tries to help. Would you have done anything differently? If so, what? Do you think Louise did the right thing?
What’s your favorite family dinner tradition?
Find out more about What Matters Most here.
The story starts in a coal mine community. When you think of coal mining what sorts of things do you picture?
Do you think Bartholomew gave up too soon looking for work outside of the coal mine? Why or why not?
If you were Ruth would you have stuck by Bartholomew or would you have asked family for more help?
Paul makes some decisions in the beginning about what to take when they left. What three things would you take if you had to leave your home and could never go back?
Do you think Paul made the right decision to leave Jubilee on the park bench? Why or why not?
Olivia steps in to take care of a complete stranger. How important do you think Ethan was in convincing Olivia to help Jubilee?
Sharing someone’s problems takes courage. In Olivia’s position would you have stepped in the same way? Why or why not?
If you’ve read Spare Change, how has Ethan Allen changed from then to Jubilee’s Journey?
If you’ve read Spare Change, how has Olivia changed from then to Jubilee’s Journey?
What is your favorite quote or saying from Jubilee’s Journey?
Do you feel Detective Gomez was justified in judging Paul in the beginning? Why or why not?
Do you feel Hurt’s path was inevitable? Was there anything that could have happened differently that would have changed the course of his life?
Everyone feels protective of Jubilee, why do you think that is? What part of Jubilee’s character makes people want to help her?
What does Olivia do when she feels stressed? What do you do when you feel stressed and want to relax or calm down?
How does Olivia draw Mahoney in to help her find Jubilee’s family?
Were you surprised by Anita’s reaction when she learned about her sister’s children? Why or why not?
Olivia and Anita both have people that enter and change their lives. How has a new person who has entered your life changed you?
Carmella wants to find out who shot her husband. Do you feel her methods were justified? Why or why not? Who finally sets the record straight on what happened to Paul?
At the end several people step forward to help Paul and Jubilee. Do you agree with how things turned out? If not, what would you have done differently?
The Twelfth Child is the story of friendship, lost love, dysfunctional family relationships and greed as it evolved around the life of one woman, Abigail Anne Lannigan. She was a free-spirited, independent woman much like many we know today, but perhaps out of place in the rural mountain life of the early 1900’s. As you go through some of the discussion questions, try to imagine yourself back in that era, years before women were allowed to vote, a time when men controlled the destiny of women.
1) In the opening chapter the elderly Abigail Anne Lannigan rapidly develops a friendship with Destiny Fairchild, a young woman in her early twenties – do you think such a friendship is unlikely? Why do you think a young girl would have an interest in such an elderly woman? Did you early on consider that Destiny had an ulterior motive in developing the friendship?
2) Abigail Lannigan took an immediate dislike to Elliott, even though he was supposedly a blood relative – why do you think she felt that way? What was your reaction to Elliott? How did you feel about Abigail tricking him into claiming he was a Baptist?
3) After Livonia died, Abigail’s father was extremely opposed to her continuing school, why do you think he felt that way?
4) Abigail’s father was set on the idea of her marrying Henry Keller, do you think he was simply concerned with her welfare or had ulterior motives?
5) Henry professed his love for Abigail, do you think she should have stayed and married him? Why do you think she couldn’t bring herself to respond to his love?
6) Judith Troy, Abigail’s school teacher, went against William Lannigan when she helped his daughter get a job in the city and leave home – do you think she had the right to interfere in such a manner? What would you have done?
7) During the Great Depression when she was hungry and out of options, Abigail took the job in a speakeasy, even though she knew it was illegal and she could have been arrested, what would you have done? Should she have considered returning home and marrying Henry as her father wanted her to?
8) Abigail seemed to fall in love with John Langley the moment he walked into the library, have you ever experienced a similar reaction to someone? Do you think she was simply awed by him, or is such a reaction is possible?
9) Abigail knew John was a travelling salesman, but should she have been suspicious when he kept finding excuses for being elsewhere during the holidays? Should she have confronted him about this? And, why do you think she didn’t?
10) When Abigail told John she was expecting a baby, he said he couldn’t marry her but offered to continue the relationship – she was desperately in love with him, so why do you think she turned and ran instead of taking him up on his offer?
11) After she lost the baby, Abigail sent John away even though she still loved him, do you think you could do the same? Why do you think she chose that path of action?
12) Why do you think Abigail’s father never responded when she sent him the pipe for Christmas?
13) The reader does not discover that Abigail is already dead until mid-story, did that come as a surprise to you?
14) At the end of the story, Abigail indicates that even though Destiny did not get the bonds she wanted her to have, everyone got what was coming to them – do you agree? Did you feel there was a sense of poetic justice in the final resolution?
15) Would you have changed the ending and if so, how?
16) Who was your favorite character in the book and why?
17) Can you speculate on what might eventually happen to the bonds?