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Reading Group Guide for One Summer
1. Charity was a “runaway bride.” Have you ever known such a bride? Perhaps been one yourself? Under the same circumstances, would you have gone through with the wedding? Or would you have risked scandal as Charity did?
3. Have you ever adopted a rescued or pound dog? If so, do you believe they know, in some way, that you’re their rescuer? (Full disclosure – we’ve always had rescues, and currently have three; Shadow, our own formerly abused Shih Tzu/poodle, was the model for Gabe’s dog.)
2. What’s your first impression of Gabe? Is it positive? Negative? Do you believe him when he keeps saying he’s not going to keep the dog he rescued? Do you believe he’s as commitment-phobic as he claims? Is his loner personality part of a defense system he’s spent a lifetime building? What does his coming to Shelter Bay, on a mission he would rather avoid for a fellow Marine, say about his sense of loyalty?
4. Despite lifelong problems with his mentally ill mother, Johnny refuses to give up on the dream that someday she might get better and the three of them can be a real family. Do you suspect this is a common hope/dream of foster children? Do you believe Johnny’s hope is realistic?
5. Johnny and Gabe each go out of their way in the beginning to act super-casual with each other. Do you sense their relationship growing as events unfold?
6. Adèle is understandably upset about how her medical condition has changed her day-to-day life, including the way other people might perceive her. Have you ever had a life-altering illness? Or known someone who has? Can you identify with her feelings?
7. Amanda defines high maintenance. But despite being self-centered and flighty, did you sense that she honestly cares for Charity? And can you understand how Charity could continue to love her despite her flaws? In what ways did Amanda come through for her daughter?
8. Charity and Gabe have their first serious argument over Johnny and Angel. Do you agree with either (or both) positions?
9. The idea of family is an ongoing theme of One Summer. Is a family based solely on blood ties? Or can one be created by individuals with love, caring, and a commitment to forging a familial bond?
10. What do you think the future holds for Gabe and Charity? How about Johnny and Angel?
Reading Group Guide for The Homecoming
1. In what ways does setting propel this story? Do you find the name of the town, Shelter Bay, to be a metaphor for the series' stories? Does the town act as a character in and of itself? What role does the slower pace of life on the Oregon coast play in Sax and Kara’s journeys of self-discovery?
2. How is Shelter Bay like your hometown? How is it different? Would you like to live in a town like Shelter Bay?
3. There are many grief-themed storylines going on in The Homecoming. Kara, her mother, and her son Trey are all grieving the loss of Kara's husband, Jared, and Kara's father, who was killed in the line of duty. Sax is grieving the loss of his SEAL teammates. Do you feel the name of the restaurant, Bon Temps, meaning good times, reflects that restoring it can become a center of healing for the characters?
Was the use of coastal scenery meant to convey that nature’s wonders can also be also healing factors? Is there some special place you go to feel renewed? Some place that feels like “home?”
4. Sax Douchett returns from Afghanistan a decorated hero, yet feels guilty for having survived an attack that left this SEAL teammates dead. When readers first meet his "demons," they appear rather horrifying. Yet, as the book progresses, they begin to morph into into "angels on a mission," and become more like his old SEAL team. Do you believe how Sax sees them reflects his own inner changes as he re-enters civilian life and becomes more involved with the Shelter Bay community, his family, and Kara and Trey?
5. Sax lost his heart to Kara back in high school, after her boyfriend, and his close friend, Jared, asked him to watch out for her while Jared left Shelter Bay to join the Marines. Even so, Sax never acted on his feelings, or took advantage of Kara’s insecurities and loneliness. Do you believe some men are born with a code of honor necessary to be a hero?
6. Sax's choice to become the "bad boy" of Shelter Bay was partly due to the fact that his older brother, Cole, was already the "perfect" elder Eagle Scout. Do you believe birth order plays a part in a personality?
7. When Sax takes Trey to the VFW hall, Trey learns much about his father from Jared's former friends. Do you believe that was partly what Sax had in mind? Do you feel that scene shows Sax being forced more out of himself into someone else's life, which will help him move on? And as Trey learns more about his father, do you feel that helps him learn more about himself. Which allows him to get past his grief?
8. Trey is a very caring and empathetic little boy who’s lost his father at an age when children personalize death. Can you understand why he doesn’t feel he can talk about his father with his mother or grandmother? And why he’s become fixated with disasters? And, just as importantly, why he feels that liking Sax would be a betrayal to his own hero father? Do you feel that no matter how close a relationship a boy might have with his mother, having a male role model is important? (And vice versa for girls with single fathers benefiting from an adult woman in their lives?)
9. Parental judgment plays an important role in The Homecoming. Do you believe many parents project their own desires on their children? To what degree does parental disapproval (real or perceived) affect a person’s choices, personality, and worldview, even into childhood? Do you believe this is gender specific? Are conflicts between mothers and daughters more likely than between fathers and daughters? And vice versa? Do you feel that the fact that Kara and Faith have been both widowed, as tragic as that is, provides an opportunity for them to begin a new relationship free of past expectations?
10. Over the course of time, Faith changes her attitude, from disapproving of Sax to actively promoting a relationship between him and Kara. Do you think this is solely due to how Sax is proving himself to be worthy of her daughter, or also because of changes within herself?
11. Although women have so many more opportunities and options than they did in the 1950s, can you identify with Faith’s June Cleaver fantasy? Do you understand her decision to make so many changes – a new love, a riskier, adventurous career change – at this stage in her life? Have you ever thought about making a major life change? Did you go through with it? And, if so, are you glad you did?
12. Kara has feelings for Sax, but is wary about getting involved with him because of concern for her son. Can you identify with that? In what ways does Sax change her view?
13. At the end of the book, Kara, Sax, Trey (and Sax’s ghosts) are all moving on to a new phase of their lives. What do you suppose their life together will be like in a few years? Would you like to see them again? How do you feel about books that are part of a series and have ongoing storylines?
14. What is the most important thing you want to get out of reading a book? Did The Homecoming satisfy that need?