January- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
- The book opens with two epigraphs. How do these quotes set the scene for the rest of the book? Discuss how the radio plays a major part in the story and time period. How do you think the impact of radio back then compares to the impact of the internet on today’s society?
- The narration moves back and forth in time and between different characters. How did this affect your reading experience? How do you think the experience would have been different if the story had been told in chronological order?
February- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
- Talk about the evolution of Harold Fry. What is his state of mind as he begins the journey, and how does he change during the long walk? What does he learn about life and about himself.
- Why is Harold’s journey called a “pilgrimage” in the title?
March- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- In Scout’s account of her childhood, her father Atticus reigns supreme. How would you characterize his abilities as a single parent? How would you describe his treatment of Calpurnia and Tom Robinson vis a vis his treatment of his white neighbors and colleagues? How would you typify his views on race and class in the larger context of his community and peers?
- What elements of this book did you find especially memorable, humorous, or inspiring? Are there individual characters whose beliefs, acts, or motives especially impressed or surprised you? Did any events in the book cause you reconsider your childhood memories or experiences in a new light?
- Adult readers may focus so much on the novel’s politics that they neglect the coming-of-age story. What does Scout learn and how does she change in the course of her narrative?
- Why do you think To Kill a Mockingbird has had such lasting influence?
- Who are the “mockingbirds” of this novel?
April- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- As an adult, did you find yourself feeling parental feelings toward Auggie- anger toward other kids, sadness that he couldn’t be protected, etc. Which passages evoke the most parental emotions from you?
- Which passages reminded you of your own youth?
- What do you think of the line, ” Don’t judge a boy by his face” which appears on the back cover of the book? Did this affect how much you wanted to read the story? How much did this line give away about the story you were about to read?
- How would you describe Auggie as a person in the first few chapters of the book? What about the final chapters? Has he changed significantly? Are there any experiences or episodes during the story that you think had a particular effect on him? If so, how?
June- Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
- Jenny Lawson is open about her struggle with mental illness. Has this book altered your view of those who face mental issues or given you greater insight of their plight?
- Cancer patients, Lawson tells us, are not blamed for their failure to respond to treatment, but the same cannot always be said for those who suffer from mental illness. Why is that?
- Talk about the use of humor inFuriously Happy. How does it affect your reading of this book? Why might Lawson treat such a serious, often tragic, subject with laughter?
- What is the significance of the title, “Furiously Happy”?
July- Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
- How is media both a help and a hindrance in our understanding of social issues? How does it offer clarity and how does it add confusion? How is the media portrayed in Flight Behavior? What impact does it have on Dellarobia and the fate of the butterflies? People are envious that the media pays attention to Dellarobia, yet she says being interviewed was like, “having her skin peeled off.” Why are so many people consumed by a desire for fame?
- Flight Behavior interweaves important themes: religion and science, poverty and wealth, education and instinct or faith, intolerance and acceptance. How are these themes used to complement each other and how do they conflict? Choose one theme and trace it through the novel, explaining how it illuminates a particular character’s life.
- What did you take away from reading Flight Behavior?
- What is the significance of the novel’s title? Talk about imagery of flight. How is it represented throughout the story?