1. Mary Kate started this story with an immature perspective on her life. She didn’t appreciate what she had or what she might be giving up if she left her family and church. Which relationship had the most effect to help her turn the corner toward adulthood: Erma Yutzy? Chris Yoder? Fern Lapp? Eugene Miller?
2. Chris and Jenny’s mother is aggravating. I even felt it as I wrote her character! It would have been nice to have a happy ending for Grace Mitchell, but it just doesn’t always happen that way in life. Whether Grace chose addiction or it chose her, she was stuck. Do you have someone in your life who seems stuck in a cycle of selfish sin?
3. Loving someone who continues a pattern of harmful sin is very complicated. Here’s an example of how Jenny struggled with hope and reality over her mother: “Despite everything, despite how confused she felt, it was her mother whom Jenny couldn’t stop thinking about. Her mother needed her. She should be there when her mother was released from rehab.” Have you ever been betrayed by a person you trusted? How did you react? How does it affect you today?
4. Jenny wondered why Chris didn’t argue back to their mother. Old Deborah explained, “Years ago, your brother read something from the Bible that spoke to him and settled deep. Jesus said we should be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” What a puzzling phrase! Yet filled with practical wisdom. How would you explain Jesus’s words to someone?
5. Old Deborah explained that Chris was wise enough to know that words were like tools. “Your mother uses her tools to tear down. Chris uses his tools to repair and fix up.” Have you ever thought of your words like that?
6. Trace the effects of love in this story on Chris and Jenny: Old Deborah’s, Fern’s, Mary Kate’s. What do you think this story tells you about the impact of love?