Everyone reads and responds to books differently. Readers and book club members bring intellect and passion to their group’s discussion (and, yes, let’s admit it, they bring their recent personal joys and trials, too!). Even so, I thought it might be helpful to book clubs and book groups planning to read and discuss Finding Maria to have a set of discussion questions to launch from. For your convenience, I have posted a PDF version of these questions over to the right. (People reading on their own might find this useful, too!)
I also wanted to make you aware that I would be happy to join your group’s meeting by Skype. Just reach out via the contact form.
20 Suggested Book Club Discussion Questions for Finding Maria
- What parts of the story drew you in? What characters, moments, and/or passages resonated with you?
- Which is your favorite scene involving Maria and the author? What about this scene struck you? How did the experiences in the scene contribute to the development of the characters?
- Related to this question, if you could have been in one scene with Maria, which one would it have been? Explain why.
- Which is your favorite scene involving the author, his father, and his aunt? What about this scene stood out for you? What did it tell you about the characters? How did it advance your understanding of or feelings about Maria? About the author? About his aunt or his father?
- How would you say the principal characters develop over the course of the story? How much do specific incidents or events foster their development, and by how much is their development the result of the gradual accumulation of these moments?
- How did your views/feelings about the characters change over the course of the book?
- Should Maria have stayed in Hungary? What might her life have been like? Her children’s lives?
- Discuss the “findings” in Finding Maria. How does the author “find” Maria? Where does he find her? What does he find?
- What does the book have to say about how the second generation (the author) experiences the Holocaust as compared to the first generation (his grandmother, father, and aunt)?
- How does assimilation and reconnection to Judaism play out through the book?
- How would you characterize the author’s relationship to Judaism?
- How would you analyze the writing style of the book? What did you find was more effective? What was less so?
- What did you think about the interwoven structure? What worked well in this structure? What worked less well?
- What were the most engaging settings? What made them work for you?
- What did you think of the ending?
- Did you learn something from reading this book? If so, how would you describe what you learned?
- How has the book affected how you think about the older people in your life?
- Can you relate personal experiences in which family stories were passed on to you? How do you think these stories helped shape your sense of yourself?
- Stepping back, what would you say is the role of story in forging connections across generations and building identity?
- In a movie version of the book, who should play each of the characters?