Reading guide for Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

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Prodigal Summer

By Barbara Kingsolver

Prodigal Summer

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Why do you think this book is entitled Prodigal Summer? In what ways do all of the characters display "prodigal" characteristics? Who, or what, welcomes them home from their journeys?

  2. Deanna is the self-appointed protector of coyotes and all predators. Is she disturbing nature's own ways of dealing with upsets? What about Garnett and his quest for a blight-free chestnut tree -- is this "good" for nature?

  3. How does the relationship between Deanna and Eddie Bondo change them both? Should Deanna have told Eddie about the pregnancy? Do you think he already knew and that was one of the reasons he left when he did?

  4. When Nannie and Garnett hug, a huge barrier between them drops and they both gain a basic understanding of each other's humanness and vulnerability. Do you think a romantic relationship between them will ensue? How much does Garnett's unrecognized longing for love and human contact account for the shift in his perception of Nannie and the greater world around him? What else influences the shift in Garnett? Does Nannie change as well?

  5. The three major story lines are named "Predators," "Moth Love," and "Old Chestnuts." Why, besides acknowledging her respect for coyotes, spiders and other predatory creatures, are Deanna's chapters named "Predators?" Does her love of predators make her the "natural" lover of Eddie Bondo? How does Lusa's life mirror the life cycle of her beloved moths? How does her love of insects lead to her emergence from her cocoon of grief (i.e. her relationship to Crystal)? How do Garnett and Nannie remind you of "old chestnuts?" Are they extinct? Are they the few lone trees left alive after a blight?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Harper Perennial. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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