Discussion Questions for Bookclubs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion Questions for The Secret of Lies

 

1.   The theme of a terrible lie protected within a web of secrecy is pivotal part of this novel. How might the story have unwound differently had the truth not been so carefully shielded?  What is the significance of the title “The Secret of Lies, both literally and figuratively?

 

2.   How realistic is the sisterly relationship between Stevie and Eleanor? The guilt Stevie feels over what happens to Eleanor is all encompassing and life crippling. How much of her self-imposed near perpetual state of purgatory justified and deserved?

 

 3.   Stevie’s discovery of Jake will become the main focus of her summers on Long Island—in particular, that final summer. What is it about this silent boy that figures so predominately in Stevie’s life? That captures her heart and imagination in such a way that she is able to pretend away the ugly drama unfolding around her?

 

4.  What might be the explanation for Eleanor’s taboo behaviors? Is she an innocent teenage girl, or is she fully aware of what she’s doing? Is it deliberate or accidental actions that seal her fate?

 

5.  The ladder part of this novel invokes a distinct change in mood and setting. How does this signify a sense of lost innocence? The end of simple pleasures and the long lazy summers away from home.

 

6.  How did you react to Stevie’s inability to move beyond her feelings of guilt over what happens to Eleanor? Is Stevie too hard on herself? Do you empathize with her? Do you find her continuous spurning of Ash understandable, annoying, or frustrating?

 

7.  What might explain Ash’s tolerance and patience with Stevie’s continued rude and abrasive behavior toward him? What is it that Ash sees in Stevie that makes him think she is worth waiting for?

 

 8.  There is a sense that Jake is Stevie’s past and Ash is her future. Do each of these male characters feel suited to their time and place in Stevie’s life? Considering the circumstances of each of these relationships, might she have behaved differently in her behaviors toward either of them?

 

9.   How does Stevie’s position as an advice columnist for the newspaper affect her constant war with guilt and regret? Is it realistic to believe that an emotionally damaged person might be effective in helping solve the problems experienced by others?

 

10.  What role does small town life on a farm occupy in Stevie’s life? Is this setting, which is characterized by hard work and loneliness, important or essential to the story?

 

11.  Were you surprised by the revelation of Aunt Smyrna’s true role in “the secret?”  Is she justified in her actions?  Does Smyrna consider Stevie a confidant, scapegoat, or unwitting pawn?

 

12.  What parallels might be drawn between Aunt Smyra and Eleanor? How are they different? How do they see themselves through the eyes of Uncle Cal?

 

13.  What end does Stevie achieve by leaving Ash and their home together? What is the greatest damage done by her betrayal? Can and will Ash forgive her? Should he?

 

14.  What scene resonated most with you personally in either a positive or negative way? Why?

Discussion Questions for The Secret of Lies

 

1.      The theme of a terrible lie protected within a web of secrecy is pivotal part of this novel. How might the story have unwound differently had the truth not been so carefully shielded?  What is the significance of the title “The Secret of Lies, both literally and figuratively?

 

2.      How realistic is the sisterly relationship between Stevie and Eleanor? The guilt Stevie feels over what happens to Eleanor is all encompassing and life crippling. How much of her self-imposed near perpetual state of purgatory justified and deserved?

 

 3.      Stevie’s discovery of Jake will become the main focus of her summers on Long Island—in particular, that final summer. What is it about this silent boy that figures so predominately in Stevie’s life? That captures her heart and imagination in such a way that she is able to pretend away the ugly drama unfolding around her?

 

4.       What might be the explanation for Eleanor’s taboo behaviors? Is she an innocent teenage girl, or is she fully aware of what she’s doing? Is it deliberate or accidental actions that seal her fate?

 

5.      The ladder part of this novel invokes a distinct change in mood and setting. How does this signify a sense of lost innocence? The end of simple pleasures and the long lazy summers away from home.

 

6.      How did you react to Stevie’s inability to move beyond her feelings of guilt over what happens to Eleanor? Is Stevie too hard on herself? Do you empathize with her? Do you find her continuous spurning of Ash understandable, annoying, or frustrating?

 

7.      What might explain Ash’s tolerance and patience with Stevie’s continued rude and abrasive behavior toward him? What is it that Ash sees in Stevie that makes him think she is worth waiting for?

 

 8.      There is a sense that Jake is Stevie’s past and Ash is her future. Do each of these male characters feel suited to their time and place in Stevie’s life? Considering the circumstances of each of these relationships, might she have behaved differently in her behaviors toward either of them?

 

9.      How does Stevie’s position as an advice columnist for the newspaper affect her constant war with guilt and regret? Is it realistic to believe that an emotionally damaged person might be effective in helping solve the problems experienced by others?

 

 10.   What role does small town life on a farm occupy in Stevie’s life? Is this setting, which is characterized by hard work and loneliness, important or essential to the story?

 

11.   Were you surprised by the revelation of Aunt Smyrna’s true role in “the secret?”  Is she justified in her actions?  Does Smyrna consider Stevie a confidant, scapegoat, or unwitting pawn?

 

12.  What parallels might be drawn between Aunt Smyra and Eleanor? How are they different? How do they see themselves through the eyes of Uncle Cal?

 

13.  What end does Stevie achieve by leaving Ash and their home together? What is the greatest damage done by her betrayal? Can and will Ash forgive her? Should he?

 

14.  What scene resonated most with you personally in either a positive or negative way? Why?