8. What was Sammie’s relationship like with Joe, her dad? Why do you think he was unable to see what was happening between Sammie and Vadine? Do you think fathers today are more sensitive to their children’s needs? How have parental roles changed in recent years?
9. Brother Henry’s response to Sammie about her mother’s suicide wasn’t definitive. Do you think suicide is the unforgiveable sin? Have you ever been close to someone who committed suicide? What words of wisdom did you receive? Discuss what steps you took to reconcile the tragedy.
10. Rita had many of the things Vadine felt were rightfully hers—Joe, the pearls, a child who lived (Sammie), even the experience of meeting the author of Gone with the Wind. When did you first suspect Vadine had deep-seated jealousy and pain? How did she act this out? Were you surprised at her final act of desperation toward Sammie? Were you able to sympathize with her by the end of the story? Do you think Sammie forgave her?
11. Have you ever longed to feel loved by someone you weren’t sure loved you back? For Sammie, healing hinged on finding out if her mother loved her. What was Rita telling Sammie by putting the pearls and New Testament in her chest of drawers?
12. The scent of lilacs occurs frequently in the story. How was this used as a literary device to tie Sammie and her mother together? Are there any smells that evoke specific memories for you?
13. Tuwana was fond of predicting who would be Sammie’s new mother. Do you think Joe and Olivia, Sammie’s beloved teacher, have a future together? What do you predict will be the outcome? What problems might arise?
14. Both Sammie’s mother and aunt had psychological problems based on inability to deal with traumatic events in their lives. What are the chances of Sammie having the same kinds of problems? What does the future hold for Sammie? Is she stronger or more vulnerable because of what happened in the story?
15. What role does faith play in dealing with psychological issues and/or the effects of past traumatic events?