"One of the most enriching experiences from writing this novel is the chance to talk with book clubs and discover new insights about the story. I learn a new perspective about the plot, setting or characters in every conversation. I've met in person or virtually with groups across the United States and Canada, and even a few from Wales -- all great fun! -- and welcome the chance to meet with any group, either virtually through Zoom or Skype or in person."
If you'd like to have Sally join your group's conversation about the novel, please email her through this website.
I love my book clubs, for all of the reasons you likely love yours -- the friendships, insightful discussions, fresh perspectives about characters, stories and themes, and time spent together over a glass or two of wine and food. When my own group read and discussed The Best Part of Us, I was thrilled to listen to their reactions and thoughts about the Llyndee family, the island and lake, and the messages they took from the story. It helped me to know each person in a new way and enriched my perspectives about the value of fiction in our lives.
One of the most enriching experiences from writing this novel is the chance to talk with book clubs and discover new insights about the story. I welcome the chance to meet with your group, either virtually through Zoom or Skype, with social distancing, and in person!
Please consider the following questions as starting points for your conversation, and I'm happy to tailor additional questions and topics of discussion for your group's particular area of interest.
1. Each member of the Llyndee family has a different perspective towards nature, which plays a large role in the individual choices they make. Kate may focus on safety because the natural world is fearful to her, for example, but was she always that way? What changed her? If the discovery of the relics and the accident hadn’t occurred, do you think Kate would have grown more comfortable on the island? Why or why not?
How do Dylan and Beth’s experiences with Ben affect their perspectives about nature and the choices they make?
Maegan takes risks in life without much thought, whether in nature or in the "real" world. Why do you think she holds this perspective?
Is Beth taking a huge risk or playing it safe by living in Chicago?
2. The Welsh and Ojibwe customs have many similarities in terms of their reverence towards nature, and yet they have different perspectives about their gods and whether they come from and are a part of nature. What other similarities or differences does the story provide between the Ojibwe and Welsh families?
3. Beth is frustrated and angry at the pecking order with her siblings, and the secrets that they seem to keep from her -- even as an adult. And yet, Maegan and Dylan know that Beth is the only one who can bring the island back into the family’s lives. Why?
4. As the main character, the novel follows Beth’s coming of age as a youngster into a teenager, and again as an adult. How does she evolve over the course of the last two chapters? How do or don’t the other family members come of age?
5. Who should have rights to the island? Can anyone really own a piece of nature?
6. Beth reconnects with the lake with her one hike to the top of Llyndee’s Peak, in spite of all that she has lived through and shut away. How and why?
7. Beth's new life in Chicago feels confining but safe to her. Can you imagine how working in a steel mill feels to Dylan, the family member most connected to the natural world? What is the worst place you can imagine living for yourself, and what would you do to heal after that experience?
8. Do you have a favorite character? Why?
9. Does the island and lake remind you of a place or piece of nature that you’ve enjoyed? How do you feel when you think about being there?
10. Do you think the entire family will return to the island?
11. If The Best Part of Us becomes a movie, who would you choose to portray Beth, Taid, Dylan, Maegan, Naina, Lily and Mike?