Why do you think Ruth is usually elusive about her past? Do you believe that by the end of the novel, Ruth has come to terms with her past?

During his adolescence, James spent three straight summers in Louisville, Kentucky with his older sister Jack. Explain how his experiences there affected his perspective on his life.

Ruth has a tremendous love of the Christian faith. Do you believe that her childhood experiences with Judaism sowed the seeds for her adult spiritual life?

Speculate on how James McBride's experience when writing this book might have affected his parenting philosophies?.

Once Ruth separates from her family, she is "dead" to them. When she returns to her sister or aunts, for example, they refuse to see her. Do you think this cutting of ties is justifiable in any way?