Reading Group Guide for ROOT, PETAL, THORN
- Root, Petal, Thorn is written from the perspective of five different women, their stories bound loosely by their common ground. Was this connection enough to pull the stories together? Did you relate more to one character than the others? If you could meet just one of the women, who would you choose and why?
- At its core, Root, Petal, Thorn is an observation of the permanence of place and the impermanence of people. How have you been affected by your home and/or neighborhood? And how has it affected you?
- Much historical fiction illustrates a famous place or person, but every person (and every place) has a history, regardless of recorded significance. Is a story about normal people and typical struggles more relatable?
- Root, Petal, Thorn is an illustration of the bittersweet passage of time. Are you a person who looks forward with anticipation, or back at all that has passed? Would you go back to a particular period in your own life? If so, when, and why?
- Emmeline – If you were in Emmeline’s position, understanding the culture and time, would you have married Nathaniel? Why or why not? She’s a consenting adult when she decides to marry him. Does that make this type of marriage okay?
- Bitsy – Written memories or journals have always been important documents, recording personal history and significant events. These days there is so much personal information recorded – vlogs, blogs, tweets – all meant for public consumption. Is this a truer representation of life, though the intent is to be widely shared? Or is social media a glossy image of the truth? And does so much information dilute the significance of each word? Finally, were the sections labeled Bitsy, more about Bitsy or about her mother, Cora?
- Eris – Eris does what she thinks is best for her son, Adonis, in the face of possible danger, regardless of his anger, and at times sacrificing the happiness of other members of her family. To what lengths would you go (or have you gone) to manipulate a circumstance that might be dangerous to your loved ones?
- Lainey – Mental illness is an especially challenging affliction, in that it has no obvious outward symptoms, like a cast or a cough. Yet it can be a life-long disease. Many think it can be cured by simply pulling up the old boot straps. And yet it contributes to suicide, drug use and homelessness. Have you personally experienced mental illness, mild or severe, in yourself or your family? How should this condition be treated?
- Ivy – Ivy is the character who searches for stories as part of her healing process. Do you believe the stories are her imagination or the truth? What do you want them to be? Have you ever imagined the people who occupied your home, before you?
- Ivy – The stories of the other women who lived in Ivy’s home don’t fix Ivy’s loss or bring her husband, Adam, back. Is understanding that you’re not alone in your pain, enough? Or would it have been more healing to have faith in a higher power, or a belief that Ivy will see Adam again? Did you want him to give her signs that he was still an active part of her life?