Reading Group Guide for A Simple Gift

1) In A SIMPLE GIFT everyone keeps secrets from the people they love. Avery refuses to tell Mike about the occasional calls and e-mails she gets while Fiona was away. Mike hides Fee’s return to Larkin from Avery. Fee keeps Samantha’s birth a secret from both her parents. When is it acceptable to keep secrets within a marriage, within a family? What is the price of keeping those secrets?

2) Mike and Avery quite obviously love each other. Why had communication broken down so completely between them? Do you think there was a point before the story opened when they might have reestablished contact? How might that have happened?

3) Do you think Avery did the right thing in pursuing Fiona, both after she left town, and once she returned? How far should a mother’s love take her when it comes to keeping contact with an estranged child?

4) Why does Mike have so much more trouble forgiving his daughter than Avery does? Is Mike justified in nurturing his anger at Fiona? What things happen that finally enable him to forgive his daughter?

5) How does Fee justify running away, stealing her mother’s pearls, and keeping Samantha’s birth a secret? What and to whom is Fee trying to prove her worth when she returns to Larkin?

6) If Fiona never reconciled with her parents, how do you think she’d feel about the choice she made five years from now? Ten years from now?

7) Authors put secondary characters in books to enhance the story. What roles do Miriam Parrish and Ted Montgomery play? Did your perception of Miriam and Ted change over the course of the book?

8) Despite their different personalities and situations, how does the Christmas cactus bind the McIntire women together through time and space? How do Letty’s diary entries, Ada’s flashback, and Miriam’s letter to Jonathan affect the emotional tension of the story?

9) What part of the story affected you the most on an emotional level? Why?

10) Admitting a mistake and asking for forgiveness is a major theme in this book. Have you made any mistakes that you regret? Did you resolve them? If so, how? If not, why?