Book Club Discussion Questions
A Line Between Friends
The central question raised by the story of Joel Rolland and Noelle Moncada is, can a man and a woman remain platonic friends after each has married someone else? Discuss this topic. Do you believe it’s possible for men and women to have strictly platonic friendships? Why or why not?
Do you have friends of the opposite gender?
Of all her college friendships, why is Noelle’s relationship with Joel more important than the others?
What is the significance of both Joel’s and Noelle’s relationships with their fathers? Mothers?
As a teenager, Joel takes pride in his affinity for jazz music; however, there is little evidence of this type of music in his life. What does this tell you about Joel?
Why do you think Noelle jumps into an engagement with Nick?
Why does Joel write the letter to Noelle?
Do Joel and Noelle ultimately make the right choices in a partner?
Do Joel and Noelle come to the same conclusions about their relationship?
Do you believe Joel and Noelle will ever come face to face again in the future?
It’s Not Your Mother’s Bridge Club
It’s Not Your Mother’s Bridge Club is about a group of eight women who gather each month to play the dice game Bunko. Most bunko groups have 12 and have a playing format of three tables, four to a table. The original version of this story had 12 characters; however, throughout the writing workshop experience, readers had a hard time keeping track of 12 characters, so the author opted to consolidate.
In communities where women form groups, be they bunko groups, book clubs, bridge clubs, prayer groups or knitting circles, what is the optimum number? How does eight women in a room differ from 12 or even 16?
Why do women form groups? Give examples of various kinds of women’s groups and discuss the types of groups to which you belong. Talk about the benefits of being part of a group. Are there negative elements?
In middle school, girls’ groups are sometimes called “cliques.” Is there a correlation between teenage cliques and middle-age women’s groups?
It’s Not Your Mother’s Bridge Club is told in eight different voices. Even though some characters get more time/focus than others, why do you think the author chose this format?
Twenty-first Century American women face a multitude of challenges. Discuss the individual challenges faced by the women of The Snake Eyes Dice Club. Do these individual challenges affect the group? And if so, how?
Of the eight main characters, is there one to whom you relate the most? Why? If you can’t relate to any of these characters, explain why not.
Of the eight main characters, some evolve as individuals more than others. Which character/s, in your opinion, experience/s the biggest changes?
There’s a conversation in the story between two of the characters about alcohol and how it affects women over the age of 40. Talk about “girls night out.” What role does alcohol intake play in this story and in real life, and discuss if and how it has changed from college days (or the 20s) vs. the 40s and 50s.
One of the characters experiences the role of living in the “sandwich generation.” She takes care of both children and an aging parent. Is this a new role for women? What are the specific challenges of caring for a parent and how is it different from the role of mother?
It’s safe to assume that one of the worst nightmares for a parent is the fate of losing a child. A character in this story, Amanda Prince, is grieving over the death of her young son. Discuss the five stages of grief. Does Amanda experience them? If so, how? Also, discuss the group’s feelings toward Amanda and what role (if any) compassion plays in this group.
Tootsie Fennimore, the former LPGA golfer, experiences “unexplained infertility.” What other forms of infertility do women experience and talk about the emotions this brings up for women (and men). Discuss your feelings about women having babies over the age of 40. And men?
Seven of the eight women in The Snake Eyes Dice Club are married. Shonah is married to Dan. Sylvia is married to the high-powered attorney, Richard Ostrander. Brandy is married to Levi. Chlöe is married to Roger. Amanda is married to Manny. Tara is married to Ian. Tootsie is married to Michael. Discuss their marriages. Are they happily married? How much time do you think neighbors and friends spend thinking about each other’s marriages?
Blanca Midnight Fernglen is the only divorcé in the group. Does the group treat her any differently? How are divorced women treated in bedroom communities filled with young families such as The Rattlesnake Valley?
Botox and breast augmentation appear in this story. How have plastic surgery options changed for women in recent years? How do you feel about plastic surgery? Have you or would you consider it?
Do you play bunko? If so, how long has your bunko group been together? Do you socialize with other members outside of bunko night? How does your group compare to The Snake Eyes Dice Club? Do you have a Chlöe? A Brandy? An Amanda?
Are you familiar with the fundraising organizations known as Bunco for Breast Cancer®? Would you or your group be willing to make this the theme of your next bunko party?
Finally, do you spell it with a “C” or a “K” ???
1. The term Irish Twins, describing two children born to the same mother within a twelve-month period, dates back to the 1840s when massive numbers of Irish people came to the United States. Discuss the Irish Potato Famine, what it was, what caused it and the effect it had on the Irish population. How were the Irish treated in America and what other derogatory terms arose during this period of time?
2. There are two sets of Irish Twins in this story. Anne and Molly and Caylie and Jenny. Discuss how each set of twins is alike and how they are different.
3. The narrator of this story, Anne, opens the story by detailing the day of her death and her journey into the “afterlife.” Do you believe in or have a vision of an afterlife?
4. What role did Anne’s Catholic upbringing play in her afterlife experience?
5. Anne gives a lot of thought to how she “abandoned” her Irish Twins when she moved with her husband, Michael, to Mitten Lake on the day of Caylie’s high school graduation. What effect did her departure at this time have on Caylie and on Jenny?
6. Nearly every cup of tea presented to Anne is different. Describe the various cups and their significances to the scenes.
7. Discuss the relationship between Jenny and Caylie. Does it change after their mother’s death? And if so, how?
8. Discuss the personalities of Anne’s other children, Marie, Darlene and Ronny. What kind of relationships do they have with Jenny and Caylie? And why does Anne spend more time focusing on Jenny and Caylie than her other children?
9. At the time of her death, Anne had been married to Michael for 56 years. What were the dynamics of their relationship? Was Michael a “good” husband to Anne?
10. When Anne sees her Irish Twin, Molly, for the first time in Ohr, she describes her as looking like the “she did when we were girls—the way she always appeared in my dreams.” Anne proceeds to “visit” her children through their dreams. Have you ever felt as though someone who has passed away has visited you in your dreams?
11. Jenny’s most precious possession is the gold watch, which Anne gave to her on Caylie’s wedding day. What significance does the watch have in this story?
12. The subtitle of Irish Twins is “A Story About Life and Death, Sisterhood and Forgiveness.” What role does forgiveness play?