Discussion Questions


  1. How does the prologue (or poem at the start of the book) frame the rest of the novel? How does it relate to the book’s themes?
  2. What would Elodie’s life have been like if she hadn’t been given up?
  3. What would Maggie’s life have been like if she hadn’t had Elodie?
  4. If you were presented with the same choice as Maggie, would you do the same?
  5. Are Maggie’s father’s actions justified? Do you forgive him?
  6. What draws Maggie to her first husband? What does her marriage to her first husband say about her relationship to her family and heritage?
  7. What does “The Home for Unwanted Girls” mean? What does it mean for a child to be “unwanted” in this context?
  8. How do Maggie’s and Elodie’s abusers justify their actions? How has this shaped both women?
  9. What do you think of Gabriel? Do you understand his perspective? Is he a healthy partner for Maggie?
  10. What are your thoughts on Maggie’s mother? Is she another abuser, or a devoted mother who has made mistakes?
  11. How does Maggie change from the start of the novel? From a teenager to an adult? Do you admire her at the end of the book?
  12. The book shifts between mother and daughter. How does this change your understanding of the book? Why do you think the author chose to tell the story in this way?
  13. How do you feel about the nun who kept Maggie and Elodie apart? How do Maggie, Elodie, and Gabriel cope with her cruelty?
  14. What do you think of the ending? Do you feel optimistic about their future?
  15. How do Elodie, Maggie, and Maggie’s mother approach motherhood? How does motherhood change how they think of themselves?