Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reader's Guide

1. Discuss the scene in which Turtle urges Emerson to stop and pick up the new girl. Turtle quickly feels a hint of regret over her decision, though she couldn’t have predicted what it would eventually lead to.Why do you think she feels that twinge of regret so immediately? Can you recall any moments in your life which felt equally pivotal, and how did you react? What was the outcome?

2. Joy Jordan-Lake created a diverse and most memorable cast of characters. Who do you relate to most, and why?

3. Farsanna says, “In America, it is everywhere the land of opportunity, my father says … ‘It is the ... end ... of the rainbow.’” Farsanna’s journey in this novel reminds her and the Pack again and again about this rainbow. Discuss how this statement could take on different meanings for each character, and discuss whether you believe there was any rainbow to be found on Pisgah Ridge.

4. How did you react to the scene in Reverend Riggs’ church? What do you think is the appropriate reaction for faith-based communities in the face of similar situations, which may have nothing to do with race or ethnicity at all, but instead with differences of all kinds?

5. Mort Beckwith and Bobby Welpler are tragic characters in this story. What are the differences between them? In what ways do you relate to either of them?

6. How did you respond to the way the novel ended? Was what happened to Jimbo a surprise? And, how do you interpret the town’s reaction to his death or to the Moulavis’ departure from Pisgah Ridge?

7. Various characters in this novel have very different approaches to faith in God, from Shelby’s admitting, in response to seeing Mr. Moulavi at prayer, that “Religious practices of the truly faithful have always made me nervous—maybe because I’ve lived my life outside the glass with my nose pressed against it” to Jimbo’s dogged insistence on “scraps of the holy hoped for.” What accounts for the difference in the various characters’ approaches to faith or skepticism?

8. Do you believe any justice was served in Blue Hole Back Home? And was there any redemption to be found? How, and where?

9. Have you ever encountered discrimination the way the Mangy Pack did in Blue Hole Back Home? Did this novel stir up those memories for you, whether in a new—or old but still—powerful way? If you’re comfortable, tell your story.

10. Do you believe this kind of racially based hatred still exists today in America? If so, why? How do you think this story would be different if it occurred today?

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