Reading Group Guide
1. In the 306th Bombardment Group, 315 men went to England in Sept. 1942 in the 35 original 9-man combat crews. Of these, 106 were killed, 88 became POWs, 10 left combat due to wounds, and 9 were evadees. How do you think the men coped with such distressing statistics? What coping techniques did you see among the characters? How do you think modern Americans would tolerate such circumstances?
2. Allie experiences rationing and shortages on the home front. Do you have any personal or family experiences of World War II home front life? How would you have dealt with these difficulties?
3. Our world harshly judges those born less than attractive. How much of Allie’s self-image problem stems from having a gorgeous mother who values beauty? How does Agatha Montclair’s story shape Mary Miller’s perception of her daughter? What problems arise from Allie’s view of herself as plain?
4. Describe Walt’s relationship with his brothers. How have comparisons to Jack and Ray affected Walt? Have you noticed similar issues in your family?
5. At the beginning of the story, Walt says white lies are like “ball bearings in the machinery of society,” but by the end he says they’re like “incendiary bombs, mangling and melting and burning.” How is this revealed in Walt’s life? In your experience, which statement is closer to the truth?
6. When Walt confesses his lie to his crew, many of the men are angry. How do you feel about their response? Does the ongoing nature of his dishonesty make it worse in their eyes? Does his faith make them come down on him harder?
7. What contributes to Allie’s decision to marry Baxter (personality, family, background)? Why do you think Baxter wants to marry her --- just the money?
8. Allie struggles with whether she should marry a man who doesn’t share her faith. How do you feel about this matter?
9. Throughout the story, Allie is torn between honoring her parents and obeying God. Why do you think it takes Allie so long to stand up to her parents? Have you ever felt torn between two “good” things?
10. What sacrifices does Walt make? How do they affect the people around him?
11. Cressie says, “Sometimes we choose our sacrifices,” and Daisy says some sacrifices “make you feel holy without making you holy.” How do you see this in Allie’s life? In Walt’s? Have you ever noticed it in your life?
12. The second book in the series, A Memory Between Us, focuses on Walt’s brother Jack and his nurse, Lt. Ruth Doherty. From what you’ve seen of these characters, what might you expect?