Reading Group Guide
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. In what ways, figuratively and literally, is Patty trapped? What are her means of escape? Do you think she's ever rescued? How does it make you, as the reader, feel that she seems to have no way out?
2. Patty and Rick have similar pasts, but each has a very different present and future. Where does she find the knowledge and strength to want to overcome her past and not repeat it? Why can't Rick seem to change despite the life he says he wants with Patty and Willie?
3. In life, Patty has experienced abuse, rejection, deception and conditional love from the people who are supposed to love her the most. Where does she learn to truly love, care for and protect Willie?
4. Throughout the book, Patty says that Rick loves her. Why is she so convinced? Does Rick love her? How would you characterize the relationship Rick and Patty have? At what point does Patty decide she's no longer afraid of being without Rick?
5. A lot of what Patty tells us about Rick's personality and character is genuinely sweet and kind. How does your perception of Rick change throughout the book? Did you find yourself wishing that he'd transformed his life or did you want Patty to get as far away from him as possible? In what ways does the author make each of the characters multi-dimensional?
6. Overall, what is Patty's life motivator? What fuels her to try new things and stand up for herself? Where does Patty's strength come from?
7. In some ways, Patty lives life on eggshells -- careful not to offend or upset Rick, Fred and members of the band, and careful not to drive her mother back to drinking. In addition, she can't take anyone's word at face value or trust what they say. Still Patty continues to forgive and give people the benefit of the doubt. Why? Explore your thoughts on forgiveness. Would you be able to remain vulnerable, as Patty does, and continue to offer second chances? Read what Patty says about forgiveness on page 112. How does forgiveness free her to remain optimistic and achieve her goals?
8. Patty is on a constant search for the comfort of home. But from what we know about her past, she never really had a stable home. What do you feel Patty is searching for? What do the salt shaker and other items that she spends her money on represent?
9. How would Patty's life have been different had her father not died? What if she'd never met Rick? What if she'd never taken her singing seriously? What if she'd never had Willie? Describe how the turning points in Patty's life shaped her future.
10. Could you hear Patty's singing voice? Who do you think she sounds like?
11. Where do you see the characters in five years? Does Patty become a successful singer? Does Jonathan remain the man in her life? Is her mother able to stay sober? Is Willie able to grow up in a stable, "normal" home? Does Patty get beyond survival-mode and enjoy peace?