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The ChanceThe Chance
Karen Kingsbury
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When Ellie and Nolan were kids, they put letters they had written to each other in a metal box, buried it beneath an oak tree, and vowed to return 11 years later. Now Ellie is a struggling single mom, and Nolan is an NBA star. Will their reunion heal their hearts---and restore their faith? 368 pages, softcover from Howard.


 The Chance Discussion Questions: Karen Kingsbury


Reading Group Guide:

This reading group guide for The Chance includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Karen Kingsbury. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Everything about Ellie Tucker’s life was seemingly perfect. She had a nice enough house with two parents who loved her, an unshakable faith in God and His goodness, and a best friend who lived down the street and understood her completely. Ellie was a typical fifteen-year-old girl living in Savannah, Georgia until that fateful day her world came crumbling down around her. After admitting her two-year affair and pregnancy, Ellie’s mother Caroline was kicked out of the house by Ellie’s father, Alan. Just two days later, Ellie was forced to leave everything behind and move with her father to San Diego, without so much as a goodbye to her mother and only a teenage promise to her best friend, Nolan Cook, to meet again under an old oak tree. Eleven years passed, and Ellie’s former life dissolved before her eyes, except for her love for her childhood best friend. Forced to take a leap of faith and to put her heart on the line, Ellie learns what it means to be true to promises and to never give up on God’s plan.


1.     The Chance opens with Ellie and her father alone at the dinner table. Across from Ellie, her mother’s chair “remained glaringly empty” (p. 20). How does this initial image of brokenness function as a motif throughout the rest of the novel? In what other ways does the image of a broken family appear in The Chance?



2.     A prevalent theme of the novel emerges early on when Ellie’s father prays for the Lord to “reveal the truth, please. In Jesus’ name, amen” (p. 20) and Ellie later thinks that “the truth smothered her like a wet blanket” (p. 23). How is truth and truthfulness an important theme in the novel?  Are there different versions of the same truth?  Like Chaplain Gray later tells Alan, do you think that it’s never too late to tell the truth because truth stands outside time (p. 173)?  Why or why not?



3.     For Ellie, Savannah is home, the place where she felt happy and loved. In San Diego, everything about Ellie’s life changes, and not for the better.  Discuss how the setting—both Savannah and San Diego—affect the characters in the novel.  What does Savannah symbolize for Ellie?  For Nolan?  For Alan and Caroline?  In opposition, what does San Diego symbolize for these same characters?



4.     Discuss Caroline Tucker. Do you like her? Why do you think she looked for love outside of her marriage? Do you blame her for splitting up her family and causing eleven years of heartache? In Caroline’s situation, is there a clear moral right and wrong? Can you think of a silver lining to this situation?



5.     What does basketball symbolize for Nolan? Why is the game so important to him? Do you think Nolan depends on basketball, and if so, for what? Consider the connection between Nolan’s love of basketball and his love of God in your response.



6.     On page 74, Nolan and his father recite one of their favorite Bible passages: “with Christ all things are possible.” For Nolan, what “things” does Christ make possible? How does this quote also apply to Ellie and her parents? Do you think that Christ makes the impossible possible for their family?



7.     Consider the ways in which Caroline and Ellie are similar. How do Caroline’s choices act as foreshadowing for Ellie’s situation? Against what or whom are both women rebelling?



8.     On page 97 Ellie says: “she didn’t really want to find Nolan Cook. Didn’t want him to see how she’d changed.” Why do you think Ellie was so scared to face Nolan? Were her fears justified? Although lapsed in her faith, do you think Ellie is still a good Christian? Why or why not?



9.     Discuss the importance of letter writing in the novel. Which characters write letters and what motivates them to do so? Are the letters representative of words that are difficult to say in person? Is there a common purpose for each letter writer? What is that purpose?



10.      On page 122 Alan declares that “the truth was . . . Caroline’s affair was his fault.” Do you agree with Alan’s conclusion? What makes Alan realize his fault after so many years?



11.      Revisit the zoo trip Ellie and Kinzie take in Chapter Fifteen. Why is this particular moment in the novel so important? What happens to the relationship between mother and daughter on this trip? Do you think Kinzie’s questions prompted Ellie to search for answers to questions she had been too afraid to ask herself?



12.     Discuss Molly and Ryan and how they function in the novel. Are they like angels on earth, facilitating miracles? Would the miracle of the reunited family have been possible without them?



13.      Is there a particular moment in the novel where Ellie regains her lost faith? Can you attribute her renewed faith in God to any one character? If so, who? Do you think that Ellie and Nolan live happily ever after? What about Caroline and Alan?



14.     Were you surprised that Ellie and Nolan rekindled their love under the old oak tree? Revisit this scene and discuss the symbolism of the moment. Was Ellie’s reaction what you expected? Was Nolan’s?




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 Discussion Questions Shop
Discussion Question Index


 • Abigail: Jill Eileen Smith
 • Abigail's New Hope: Mary Ellis
 • Against All Odds: Irene Hannon
 • Against the Tide: Elizabeth Camden
 • Almost Forever: Deborah Raney


 • Blue Moon Promise: Colleen Coble
 • Blue Widow Brides: Maggie Brendan
 • Breach of Trust: DiAnn Mills
 • (The) Bridesmaid: Beverly Lewis
 • (The) Bridge: Karen Kingsbury
 • Brigid of Ireland: Cindy Thomson
 • Burn: Ted Dekker


 • (The) Calling: Suzanne Woods Fisher
 • (The) Chance: Karen Kingsbury
 • Chasing Mona Lisa: Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey
 • Chasing the Sun: Tracie Peterson
 • Choices of the Heart: Laurie Alice Eakes
 • Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate: Diana Wallis Taylor
 • Critical Care: Candace Calvert
 • Crossing Oceans: Gina Holmes


 • (The) Dance: Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley
 • Deadline: Randy Alcorn
 • Deadly Devotion: Sandra Orchard
 • Deadly Ties: Vicki Hinze
 • Deception: Randy Alcorn
 • (The) Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow: Olivia Newport
 • (The) Discovery: Dan Walsh
 •  Dolled Up to Die: Lorena McCourtney
 • Demon: A Memoir: Tosca Lee
 • Digitalis: Ronie Kendig
 • Dogwood: Chris Fabry
 • Double Minds: Terri Blackstock
 • Dying to Read: Lorena McCourtney


 • Fair Is the Rose: Liz Curtis Higgs
 • Freefall: Kristen Heitzmann
 • Frontiersman's Daughter: Laura Frantz


 • Gift of Grace: Amy Clipston
 • Gone South: Meg Mosley
 • Grace: Shelley Shepard Gray


 • Havah; The Story of Eve: Tosca Lee
 • Heart's Safe Passage: Laurie Alice Eakes
 • Highland Sanctuary: Jennifer Hudson Taylor
 • Hope of Refuge: Cindy Woodsmall


 • Intervention: Terri Blackstock
 • Into the Whirlwind: Elizabeth Camden
 • Invisible: Ginny Yttrup
 • Iscariot: Tosca Lee


 • (The) Jewel of His Heart: Maggie Brendan
 • June Bug: Chris Fabry


 • Katie's Way: Marta Perry
 • Killer Among Us: Lynette Eason


 • Lady in the Mist: Laurie Alice Eakes
 • Lady of Bolton Hill: Elizabeth Camden
 • Lady of Milkweed Manor: Julie Klassen
 • (A) Lasting Impression: Tamera Alexander
 • Leah's Choice: Marta Perry
 • The Lesson: Suzanne Woods Fisher
 • Lethal Remedy: Richard Mabry
 • Life in Defiance: MaryLu Tyndall
 • Like Dandelion Dust: Karen Kingsbury
 • Lonestar Sanctuary: Colleen Coble
 • Lonestar Secrets: Colleen Coble
 • Love Amid the Ashes: Mesu Andrews
 • Love at Any Cost: By Julie Lessman
 • Love Calls: Lorna Sielstad
 • Love in a Broken Vessel: Mesu Andrews


 • Making Waves: Lorna Sielstad
 • (A) Memory Between Us: Sarah Sundin
 • Moon in the Mango Tree: Pamela Ewen
 • Moonlight Masquerade: Ruth Axtell
 • (A) Most Peculiar Circumstance: Jen Turano
 • My Heart Remembers: Kim Vogel Sawyer


 • Naomi's Gift: Amy Clipston
 • Never Far From Home: Mary Ellis
 • Nightshade: by Ronie Kendig
 • No Place for a Lady: Maggie Brendan
 • (A) Noble Groom: Jody Hedlund



 • Paper Roses, by Amanda Cabot
 • Plain Jayne, by Hillary Manton Lodge
 • Preacher's Bride: Jody Hedlund
 • Promise of an Angel: Ruth Reid


 • Rebekah: by Jill Eileen Smith
 • Redeeming Love: Francine Rivers
 • Redemption: Karen Kingsbury & Gary Smalley
 • (A) Reluctant Queen: Joan Wolf
 • Remember to Forget: Deborah Raney
 • Remembered: Tamera Alexander


 • Sarah's Gift: Marta Perry
 • Shadows of the Past: Patricia Bradley
 • Simple Choices: Nancy Mehl
 • Simple Deceit: Nancy Mehl
 • Slow Moon Rising: Eva Marie Everson
 • Someone to Blame: Susanne Lakin
 • A Sound Among the Trees: Susan Meissner
 • The Sweetest Thing: Elizabeth Musser


 • Tailor Made Bride: Karen Witemeyer
 • That Certain Summer: Irene Hannon