Reading Group Guide
1. At the beginning of the novel, Emily Williams lives a privileged life, yet she is unhappy. Have you ever envied someone famous who appears to have it all: money, good looks, a beautiful home and family? Do you think that images presented by media and social media contribute to the belief that your life is not as perfect as it could be?
2. When Delia learns that her family has lost its wealth, she is embarrassed to tell her friends and teachers. What you think their reaction would have been if she had told the truth? What would you say to a friend who tells you they are being evicted?
3. According to The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth 1.3 million homeless students were reported enrolled by U.S. public schools in the 2013-2014 school year. Does that figure surprise you? Why do you think this problem is not discussed more openly?
4. Of all the characters Delia and Emily meet in the tent city, who is your favorite? Why?
5. Do you think Emily and Gloria would have become friends if they met under different circumstances before Emily became homeless? How does Emily’s friendship with Gloria help her to change throughout the story?
6. When Delia finds her sister and confronts her in New York, why do you think Rachel reacted the way she did? Was she just still angry about Delia’s betrayal or was there more?
7. Were Delia, Emily, and Gloria justified in fleeing from Joy Pierce? Do you think the social worker believes she is doing her job or is she being vindictive because she was reprimanded? Explain, from her perspective, why she wants to remove Delia from Emily’s care.
8. At her father’s memorial service, Delia’s memories come flooding back, triggered by a family photo at the Jersey shore. She recalls the idyllic summers there and ends by recalling that all she ever needed was Emily’s approval to feel loved. How does this explain the dynamic between her and her mother?
9. The Nautilus shell and its spiral shape appear throughout the book. What does the Nautilus shell represent to Delia as an object and as a metaphor?
10. Various characters such as Uncle Arthur, Gloria Florence, and the lawyer Marvin Mullins reach out to help Delia and Emily. How do you explain why Emily rejected Uncle Arthur’s help?
Tina J Gordon
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Tina J Gordon