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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Passing Through Paradise

1. The town of Paradise holds different meanings for Sandra Winslow and Mike Malloy. What are these meanings? What would you define as "paradise" for each of these characters? How would you describe your perfect paradise?

2. In the first scene of the book, we see Sandra making a list about a TV reporter and chopping firewood. What do these two things tell us about her character? What would you say are her strengths and her weaknesses? Do you think her decision to sell her house and leave town is courageous? Are there other options she could have considered?

3. The tragedy of Victor Winslow?s disappearance is officially ruled an accident, yet the locals persist in believing that Sandra murdered her husband. Why? Does the strength of their belief in Sandra's guilt justify their actions toward her? How far would you go to right a wrong that you think has been committed?

4. Mike Malloy doesn?t know what to expect when he meets his high school buddy?s widow, Sandra. What is his first impression of her? How does this impression change over the course of the book? If Mike didn?t need work so badly, do you think he would have declined the job of restoring Sandra's house?

5. At one point Mike describes Lenny and Gloria as having "what a marriage should be." Why does Mike say this? What happened to him in his marriage? Many times in the story the idea of the "perfect marriage" arises. What is the perfect marriage? How does Sandra feel after hearing her parents may divorce? Do you think her mother has good enough reasons to leave her husband?

6. Sandra?s books are available by request only at the library due to questionable material in her books. What is the "questionable material"? Did it bother Mike's daughter, Mary Margaret? Do you think the material warrants censorship? How do you feel about Sandra?s attitude about the censorship of her books?

7. Mike conducts a secret investigation into the night of Victor's disappearance. Why? What role do his feelings for Sandra play? Do those feelings warrant his going behind her back? When is "I'm doing it for your own good" not an acceptable reason for taking a particular course of action?

8. Mike?s ex-wife, Angela, is still a part of Mike's life. In what way do they remain connected? When Angela confronts Sandra, what does Sandra do? What explanation does Mike have for Angela's behavior? If she is happy with her new marriage, why does she act this way?

9. When Victor reveals the truth about himself, his parents reject him. How would you react to such a revelation from your child or someone close to you? Do you think Victor's parents' standing in the community will be affected? His father tells him, "You should never have come back." Is there ever a situ-ation when not knowing the truth is better?

10. Characters in the book make sacrifices and changes in the name of love: Sandra hides Victor's secret, Mike doesn't attend his daughter?s confirmation, Sandra?s father learns Spanish. What are you willing to do for love?

Passing Through Paradise
by Susan Wiggs

  • Publication Date: February 2, 2002
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 044661078X
  • ISBN-13: 9780446610780