Good Hope RoadGood Hope Road
Lisa Wingate
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Excerpt


In a time of crisis, two women come together—and set off down a road of hope...

Twenty-year-old Jenilee Lane, whose dreams are as narrow as the sky is wide, doesn’t imagine any good could come out of the tornado that has ripped across the Missouri farmland where she makes her home. But some inner spark compels her to take action. To rescue her elderly neighbor Eudora Gibson from the cellar in which she’s been trapped. To make her way to the nearby town of Poetry, where the townspeople have begun to gather in the only building left standing. To collect from the devastated landscape fragments of life that lie strewn about in the tornado’s wake: letters, photographs, and mementos that might mean something to people who have lost everything.
     


 

 Good Hope Road Discussion Questions: Lisa Wingate


 

1. Good Hope Road describes a community recovering from the destruction caused by a cataclysmic natural event.  Have you experienced anything similar in your own life, or do you know people who have?  How might one’s experience of destruction caused by an act of war, as on September 11th, differ from one’s experience of a natural disaster? 

 

 

2. Although the townspeople have ignored Jenilee’s plight throughout her life, she instinctively comes to the aid of her neighbor, Eudora Gibson, after the storm. On the other hand, at first, Jenilee doesn’t think to bring emergency supplies from home to the center of town.  Why does she behave inconsistently in this regard? Is one act instinctual and the other a learned response? Where does the instinct to help come from? Do other characters in the book have it? Do you and the people you know?  How does one learn to become a caring member of a community?

 

 

3. The storm and the days afterward prove to be important turning points in the lives of Jenilee Lane, Eudora Gibson, and Dr. Albright.  Why are these three characters so changed by their experiences?  Can you compare their experiences to an important turning point in your own life?

 

 

4. Of all the items she finds in the debris, Jenilee is most fascinated by the photographs.  Why? What do they symbolize for her?  Compare what she does with the photographs to what people in real communities have done with photographs after great tragedies—for example, in Oklahoma City after the bombing of the Federal Building; in Littleton, Colorado, after the school shooting; in New York City after September 11th. Why do you think that Jenilee feels, and the people of these real-life communities felt, such a strong need to publicly share those photographs? Discuss the impact of the photographs on the community.

 

 

5. At the beginning of Good Hope Road, Jenilee Lane is a young woman whose abusive family situation and limited circumstances have led her to expect very little from life.  By the end of the book, she sees new possibilities for herself.  Discuss the specific events in the novel that bring her to a place where she can see beyond the present to a brighter future.  Why is her transformation so difficult?  Do you know people like Jenilee? What efforts have been made to help them and what have the results been like?  Why is it so difficult to change people’s expectations of themselves, and where does our responsibility lie in helping them?

 

 

6. For much of the novel, Jenilee is angry at her brother, Drew, for having left her and their younger brother, Nate, alone to face their abusive father and ill mother.  Was Drew wrong to leave the family? In what ways has he both succeeded and failed to overcome the limitations of his upbringing?  In what ways are the responses of Jenilee, Drew, and Nate typical of children raised in abusive homes?

 

 

7. Don’t read this question if you haven’t already finished the novel.  At the end of Good Hope Road, Jenilee’s father is still very ill, but if he recovers from surgery, the expectation is that he will be placed in a Veteran’s hospital for long-term care, thus freeing Jenilee and her brothers from his undermining influence.  If a facility such as the Veterans hospital did not exist, what affect might that have on the futures of Jenilee, Drew, and Nate?

 

 

8. Many of Eudora Gibson’s problems in life are the result of bitterly held resentments regarding past events.  She concludes that God has been letting hardships come to her in order to prod her into “turn(ing) over the reins” of her life.  Do you agree with her assessment? Why or why not?

 

 

9. Dr. Albright arrives on the scene with an unfriendly, all-business attitude, and shows little concern for his patients as people.  How does he change in the course of the novel, and what specific events provoke that change?  What changes do you think he will intend to make when he returns home? Will he succeed?

 

 

10.  The story of the moth struggling to become a new creature begins and ends the book.    
Why do you think the author chose to frame the book with this image?  Is it effective?

 

 


 

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