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?