Painting Bridges, a Novel
Discussion Points and Questions for Book Clubs
1. What is the main theme of the book? How many ways is the theme expressed and explored over the course of the story?
2. Sam experienced a devastating loss. How did the tragedy change her? What experiences helped her transition out of the worst of her depression? How do you see her life changing in the future?
3. Tara has reached her seventh birthday without any form of language. Can you imagine the inner life of a child without words, or signs, or symbols? How would that child think? Dream? Understand the world and other people?
4. Margo walked out on Tara and didn’t communicate with her or Jerry for almost two years. Do her motives make a difference? Do her belated efforts to reconnect and to champion Tara’s education in American Sign Language make a difference? How do you see Margo’s life in the future?
5. Sam and Jerry were both lonely and in need of love and companionship. Did you hope that they might ultimately become a couple? Why or why not?
6. The story moves between Cleveland and a small rural town in the mid 1970s. How important is the setting and time period to the story?
7. How has Special Education changed since 1975 and the passage of Public Law 94-142?
8. How did issues of class, race, and culture affect the characters, their life choices and decisions?
9. Sam’s family was talented, ambitious and demanding. What are the pros and cons of growing up in such a family?
10. Was the ending satisfying? Why or why not?