Book club questions – The Orphan Daughter

Warning, spoilers!

  • Lucy doesn’t think Jane acts “motherish.” What do you think of Jane as a mother? Did Gloria and Luis make the right choice when they selected her to be Lucy’s guardian?
  • As she returns from meeting Lucy, Jane thinks: “Beginnings come from endings. All you can do is try to hang onto everything so it doesn’t get lost along the way.” Do you think we ever resolve grief, or does it continue to impact our lives? Is it possible to let go? How have grief experiences affected your life?
  • What do you think about Jane suspecting Juan and Esperanza as the jewelry thieves? Do unflattering stereotypes have a place in literature, if only for the sake of exposing them, or not?
  • Do you think Juan and Esperanza have a human or moral right to stay in the United States? Why or why not?
  • After talking to her son Matt at Christmas, Jane feels absolved of her maternal guilt. Do you think she is justified? Why is her recollection of Matt’s childhood so different from his own? Whose is correct?
  • Had the Livingstons not discovered Lucy’s runaway plan, do you think she would have boarded the plane for Mexico instead of returning to Traverse City?
  • Lucy’s grass “phobia” is really a form of magical thinking. Have you ever developed an irrational belief like this? How did you overcome it?
  • Would Lucy have been happier with her Mexican relatives? What do you think happens to Bonita and Graciela?
  • When the spring frost hits, Jane thinks that “the bigger picture (of climate change) feels a lot less urgent” than the consequences of a season without work for the migrant community. Can short-term and long-term ramifications of our decisions ever be balanced?
  • After living in California, Alaska and Texas, Jane finds that the rhythm of living in a place with four seasons (Michigan) is instrumental to her mental well-being. Do you find natural or seasonal rhythms and patterns to be reassuring or comforting? Which ones? Why?