Reading Group Guide
1. Sarah Dowling reassures her participants that their attendance in her group will not go on their official records. Discuss ways in which ambivalent or negative attitudes toward mental health struggles affected each person's healing process. Does this reflect your experience of these attitudes and issues in your own community?
2. Claire's independence and helping attitude both help and get in the way of her personal and professional lives. What were some situations when her own blind spots got in the way of her investigation or own best interests? What were some ways in which these traits helped other or herself?
3. Claire is a woman in two traditionally male-dominated fields. Is this ever an advantage in her investigations?
4. The therapy sessions, where the narrator is Sarah Dowling, gives a chance for the reader to see the characters from a bystander's perspective. How did these sessions serve as a "reality check "for the reader, compared to seeing the action through the eyes of characters who were not very self-aware?
5. Church members often expect their leaders to live a transparent, moral life of example for others. And yet, the incidence of depression and addiction in the field can run very high. What factors might drive these two, parallel realities?
6. As the title implies, this book deals with those who have served in the military returning to their civilian lives: What is your experience of returning military? How do you feel the book addresses the topic?
7. The book opens with a new character, Sarah Dowling, getting ready to start a veteran’s group. What do you think of her role? Of the group?
8. Who is your favorite character in the book? Why? If your favorite is either Clare or Russ, who else would you pick?
9. This books focus is more about the personal lives of its characters and less centered in “church.” How do you feel about this?
10. What do you think of the ending? What do you think will be the reaction of Russ, the congregation, and the rest of Miller's Kill?
11. Is Will's reaction to his injuries typical? Why or why not?
12. Do you feel that Dr. Stillman was right to continue practicing medicine? Would his condition be obvious to others?
13. Is Clare's use of drugs and alcohol logical? Would a woman of faith need these crutches?