Please note: If you want a lighthearted discussion, choose the “Just For Fun” questions. If you want to dig deeper and discuss the spiritual issues and themes raised in the novel, choose the “Going Deeper” questions.
Just For Fun:
- Which character do you like most in this novel and why?
- Which character do you like least and why?
- How did you feel about Alice’s “nosy” neighbor?
- In what ways can you relate to Alice?
- Throughout the novel, Beth was a caring friend for Alice and stood by her for years. Do you have a special friend, perhaps one you’ve known since junior high or high school?
- In what ways do you relate to Trent?
- Have you been to Seattle before? If so, where did you go and what did you do?
- In the first chapter, when Alice’s credit cards were denied, what did you think had happened?
- What is your favorite scene in the novel and why?
- What do you think it was about Trent’s personality that made him susceptible to a gambling addiction?
- The author included every element in the dream Alice had, the one with the piano and fox eyes, intentionally to symbolize her internal struggle. Discuss the various visuals and other sensory details in this scene and what the author might have been trying to convey through them.
- In the first scene, Alice is eating lunch with women she refers to as friends but whom she doesn’t trust. Why do you think Alice was distrustful of and disconnected with these women? Considering she distrusted them, why do you think she continued to spend time with them? How much do you think her own shame regarding her husband’s behavior impacted her lack of emotional connection with these women? Do you tend to develop close relationships with other women, or is this an area you struggle with?
- As the novel progresses, we begin to see how much Trent’s addictions impact his family. Why do you think Alice didn’t get help when she first noticed her husband’s drinking problem? How might things have changed had she sought help?
- Alice loves her kids and wants to be a good mom, but in many ways, she’s going about it in the wrong way. She’s trying to hold her family together at the expense of emotional health and truth. Discuss how truth and love work together to create and maintain healthy relationships.
- In families affected by addiction, it’s common for family members to develop codependent relationships and enabling behavior. As they do, their boundaries become blurred until they are non-existent. What types of boundaries might a spouse need to set when their husband or wife is an addict? What do you think hinders them from setting these boundaries?
- In what ways did you see God pursuing Alice throughout the novel? How has He pursued you throughout your life? Are you often aware of His presence? If not, what keeps you from being aware?
- This question relates to number five. Throughout the novel, we see God drawing Alice to Himself, but she resists. Why do you think this is? Do you think she believes God truly loves her? How does knowing we are deeply loved help us and bring comfort when others hurt or disappoint us? Do you know, truly, how deeply God loves you? Have you ever felt unloved, and if so, when? What do you think contributed to those feelings?
- Throughout the novel, we never see Trent turn to Christ except when he’s at his rock bottom. What do you think kept him from turning to Christ and receiving help? How can sin fill us with shame and keep us from Christ? How does confession and prayer break this cycle? Do you have any experience with this?
- Beth, Alice’s friend, lets Alice know she’s aware there’s a problem in her marriage and attempts to reach out to her. When Alice resists Beth’s efforts, how does Beth respond? Does she appear like the type of friend to give up on Alice easily? Evaluate your friendships. Do you typically demonstrate longsuffering, persevering love? If not, ask God to help you grow in this area.
- As Trent’s addictions worsen, his and Alice’s life continues to fall apart. Consider sin. How can one sin lead to greater sin? What happens to our hearts when we live in deliberate sin, and how did you see this revealed in Trent’s life?
- Why do you think Alice’s oldest felt such anger toward her? Did she handle his anger appropriately? What could she have done differently?
- Why do you think Ethan’s prayer journals touched Trent so deeply?
- What finally gave Trent the strength to change?
- What happened during the prayer experience toward the end of the chapter that softened (and broke) Alice’s heart? How did this impact her and Trent’s reconciliation later?