Reading Group Guide
1. Julia and Peter’s marriage was strained long before Jenny’s death, but Julia felt guilty about the impending divorce because Jenny wanted them to stay together. Is staying in a marriage for the sake of your children ever a good idea?
2. Do you think Jenny’s death was a suicide? If so, why might she have decided to take her father’s life as well as her own?
3. How do Lion’s feelings for Graciela change the way you feel about him?
4. Roberto chose to take Rosa with him on the difficult desert crossing rather than leave her behind to grow up without him. In hindsight, he realized that he had underestimated the dangers they would face. Do you sympathize with his decision? What would you have done in his place?
5. Julia loves her dog, Bonnie, all the more because Jenny loved her, too. And Roberto is overjoyed to find Rosa’s beloved doll at Found Objects because she belonged to Rosa. Is there an object that you cherish because it belonged to a lost loved one?
6. Jack Leary decides to help Julia because he understands that it’s her way of staying close to Jenny, but he comes to feel that his late wife, Louella, would approve of his mission. How might Roberto and Julia’s story have turned out if Jack hadn’t become involved?
7. Ronnie sends Jack on a wild-goose chase to Tucson, hoping that he won’t come back and learn the truth about Rosa. Is she right to mistrust him? Do you condone Ronnie’s decision to make Rosa “disappear” from the system?
8. THE LEMON ORCHARD ends on an ambiguous note with Roberto and Rosa reunited and Julia returning to California alone. Do you think that Roberto and Julia’s story will end here, too?
9. There are many Cinderella stories about women who are “rescued” from their less privileged lives by wealthier men. And --- even in the twenty first century --- relationships like Julia and Roberto’s give many people pause. Why is it more socially acceptable for the man in a given couple to have a better education and more money than the woman?
10. Have you ever been involved with someone who came from a radically different socio-economic background than your own? How conscious were you of your differences?
11. America is the land of immigrants. Did Roberto’s experience resonate with what you know about your family’s journey to America?
12. What is your opinion on the United States’ current immigration policies? Do you think that most would-be immigrants have a clear picture of what life in the States is really like?