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Friday, May 31, 2013

Why Book Groups Might Want to Read Wander Home

I've only just joined my first book group -- but my parents have been in book groups for years, and I have friends and acquaintances who belong to such groups. When I find Discussion Guides in the backs of books, I read them, and imagine the discussions they might provoke. And I believe my novel Wander Home would make for some interesting talk around a book club circle. (I'm using "book group" and "book club" interchangeably, and hope I'm not tripping carelessly into some mine field of disputed terminology.)

To begin with, Wander Home is set in an afterlife. Who doesn't have ideas or fantasies about what an afterlife might involve? My father the unshakeable atheist, perhaps -- but I would guess that most people have at some time imagined, or hoped, or feared, what might happen in a life after this one. Members of the group could discuss their own ideas, and express their opinions on the plausibility, desirability or utility of the features I've included.

There's also the question of just what kind of afterlife these characters are inhabiting. Does it fit into the structure of any established religion -- and if so, where?

Wander Home explores several themes that use, but do not depend upon, its unearthly setting. Forgiveness is one. Readers could ask themselves, and each other: if you were Cassidy, what would have to happen for you to forgive your mother? If you were Eleanor's parents, or her grandmother, how hard would it be to forgive what Eleanor did to you, or to Cassidy? If you were Eleanor, could you forgive yourself?

The critically minded could ask whether the plot device that eventually explains Eleanor's actions "works." Is it successful? Forced? Satisfying, or the reverse?

The characters have the chance to revisit old haunts. Where would you go, if you could? Whom would you want to take with you?

This afterlife allows you to relive, and to share, the memories of life. Are there memories you long to relive? Are some memories too painful to revisit? Is there anything to be gained by experiencing that pain?


These questions only scratch the surface of where the discussions could go. So -- am I right? Is this a book for book groups, or what? J


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