Reading Group Guide
1. In the novel, the Berlin Wall almost didn’t fall. What would our world be like had the Berlin Wall never fallen? Was the world a safer place during the Cold War or now?
2. Rift Zone opens with Faith’s mother using her as a child to smuggle a Bible into the Soviet Union. Have you ever known someone to use their children to help them achieve an elusive goal? What effect do you think this has on the child when she is grown?
3. Faith takes great risks trafficking contraband through the Iron Curtain. What motivates her to take such chances? Is there any relation between this behavior and unresolved family issues?
4. The only thing Faith has from her father is the note, "We never had a chance, but we made one for ourselves." What does this mean?
5. Even as late as 1989 it seemed inconceivable that a Warsaw Pact state like East Germany could meddle in the affairs of the Soviet Union. Is it possible that another NATO government would try to manipulate domestic affairs in the United States? Is this more or less conceivable after German and French opposition to American policy in Iraq? Do you think American Allies spy on the US?
6. Everything in Rift Zone seems so real. Sometimes too real. What parts of it do you think were taken directly from the author’s own experience?
7. Summer became a hero, preventing the assassination of a foreign head of state. Did he do the right thing? Should a US military officer not acting on orders become involved in the affairs of another country? What if they can prevent the assassination of a leader?
8. How did Faith change over the course of the novel? Why? How did her mother change?
9. The novel is set in May 1989 --- six months before the Berlin Wall collapses. What do you think Faith is going to do when the Wall is no longer there? What kinds of dilemmas will this pose for her? For Margaret, the Bible smuggler? For Kosyk, the Stasi General? Who will make the transition to the post-communist world the most easily? Who will have the hardest time?