Spare Change Book Discussion Questions

The novel Spare Change addresses a number of issues and covers a time span of over fifty years, which of the following would you consider this book – Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery, Women’s Fiction or Inspirational Fiction?

The story takes place in the first half of the twentieth century, do think it was possible back then to successfully have both a career and a family?

Have you ever known a woman who, like Olivia, felt having children would be a detriment to the other aspects of her life?

Olivia had a lot of foolish superstitions; do you have any superstitions you know are foolish?

After Charlie’s death, did you suspect the okra soup Canasta gave Olivia actually had a magical quality that brought about happiness?

When Olivia returned to live in Charlie’s apartment the residents felt she was responsible for his death and they shunned her—do you think there was something she might have said or done to convince them otherwise? In a similar circumstance do you think you’d be more forgiving or do you think it’s human nature to resent the interloper?

Ethan Allen’s mother Susanna was a lot like Olivia in that she had aspirations of a career and she did not want children – did they differ only in education and refinement or could you see other distinctions?

Susanna’s husband Benjamin knew she wanted to be a singer when he asked her to marry him – was he at fault for thinking he could change her or was she to blame for thinking he’d be her ticket to New York?

Susanna and Ethan Allen had a rather strange relationship; it was not parental but did you believe it to be loving relationship?

When Susanna finally decided to take Ethan Allen and go to New York without Benjamin, was she justified in making that decision?

When Benjamin took the money Susanna had saved to buy a new tractor, was he justified in doing so? How do you think you’d react if, without prior discussion, your spouse withdrew your savings and bought something he wanted/needed?

Ethan Allen was not your typical innocent child—he manipulated people to get the things he wanted—was it excusable because of his home life?  Did you see the parallel in the way his parents manipulated each other in their attempts to get what they wanted?

The gas station owner Tom Behrens helped Ethan Allen get to Wyattsville, do you think he was in his mind righting the wrongs of his own childhood?

When Ethan Allen arrived at Olivia’s why do you think he was reluctant to tell the truth of what he’d seen?

Did you think Detective Jack Mahoney was simply trying to close a case or had a genuine concern for Ethan Allen?

Did you feel Sam Cobb got involved as he did because he was trying to garner a departmental promotion or because he was trying to protect his father?  If you were in the position of knowing your parent or sibling had committed a crime would you tell the truth to investigators?

What about Emma Cobb, should she have hidden the bloody shirt and what did you see as her alternatives?

Although Olivia never wanted children, she allowed Ethan Allen to stay—what did you see as her reason for doing so? Did you feel that it was because she had also experienced the feeling of being alone and friendless?

After Scooter Cobb was killed, Olivia told the police that she shot Scooter but she allowed Ethan Allen to believe that he had done it. Did you see this as a kindness to the boy because he could now believe that he’d saved someone he cared about whereas with his parents he’d been helpless to do anything?

The final chapter takes place in Heaven, would you have written it differently?

Cracks in the Sidewalk Book Discussion Questions

Cracks in the Sidewalk is a story of family relationships – Mother/Daughter, Wife/Husband, Parent-Grandparent/Child – which of those relationships could you most relate to?

What aspect of that relationship touched you most?

In this book each character tells their side of the story in their own voice – do you think that enriched the story and helped you to better understand the character’s behavior?

Claire is the protagonist in this story, if you were faced with the same set of circumstances, what would you have done differently?

In the early part of the story when Elizabeth married Jeffrey – do you think he was genuinely in love with her or did you see it as a marriage of opportunity?

When Elizabeth was diagnosed with the brain tumor, did you find the medical descriptions of what was occurring believable?

Jeffrey seemed uninvolved when it came to Elizabeth’s pregnancies, what do you think was the reason for his behavior?

When Jeffrey’s business was failing and his father-in-law refused to lend him any more money, do you think that refusal was justified? Or should Charlie have given him the money for Elizabeth’s sake? Do you think if Charlie gave him the money it would have changed the outcome of events?

Once Elizabeth was diagnosed as terminal, did you see Jeffrey’s refusal to allow her to return to their house as a spiteful way of getting back at Charlie? Or did you think he simply couldn’t deal with the reality of her dying?

Given Jeffrey’s contemptible behavior, do you think Claire was justified in hitting the door with a sledgehammer? What would you have done?

Was Claire right in spending her time at the hospital with Elizabeth, or should she have made more of an effort to convince Jeffrey to have her babysit the children? Had she done this, do you think he would have allowed her to be the children’s caregiver?

Why do think Elizabeth continued to hope that she and Jeffrey would get back together again?

After Elizabeth’s death, Claire withdrew into a world of misery that not even Charlie could penetrate, how would you have reacted in this situation?

After Claire began helping out in the Sunday School, she found a piece of herself that she had lost – did you understand what that piece was?

During the years when Claire saved the returned cards and presents she had for the children, do you think she did so because she believed she would see the children again, or was it simply her way of filling the void of their absence?

In some states Grandparents still do not have a legal right to see their grandchildren- decisions regarding visitation are left up to the child/children’s parent or guardian. Do you think grandparents should have the right to visit their grandchildren regardless of parental preference?

After Charlie’s death, Claire discovered the children she had tended and loved during those lost years were more than passing through, they were the family she never realized she had – do you think that people caught up in grief often fail to see their many blessings?

When the children were reunited with their Grandmother, why do you think only the oldest boy had feeling of anger toward Claire?

If you could change the ending of this story, how would you written it?

Cracks in the Sidewalk was based on a true story, what parts of the book do you believe to be true and what parts fictionalized?

After reading the book did you see this as an inspirational story of how Claire found her way through life by helping others, or did you see it as a sad story of the years she lost being with her own grandchildren?

A Book Club Discussion With The Author…What Fun!

A Book Club Discussion With The Author…What Fun!

Shown L to R are: Bette Lee Crosby, Diane Casey, and Marcia Davis

There are very few things that are as much out-and-out fun as participating in a discussion group that has read your book. Quite often I’ll do that if the club is local…if not, I join the discussion on that wonderful teleconferencing medium SKYPE. (For those of you unfamiliar with Skype, it’s a free download that enables you to do teleconferencing with live photos from each end) This particular club discussion was held at Diane Casey’s home at the PGA Club in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. There were fifteen women and they were fabulous.The book they were discussing was my award-winning novel “Cracks in the Sidewalk”  And knowing that the novel is based on a true story, they had questions galore! The most prominent questions had to do with which parts were true and which were fictionalized. They listened in awe as I told them the truth of the event that inspired the story. If your book club reads this book, please let me know and I’ll do my very best to take part in your meeting.