Reading guide for Rescuing Patty Hearst by Virginia Holman

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Rescuing Patty Hearst

Memories from a Decade Gone Mad

by Virginia Holman

Rescuing Patty Hearst
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2003, 256 pages
    Mar 2004, 256 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. What kind of impact do parents have on their children? Do you agree with the notion that the same sex parent of a child has a deeper impact? At what age are children most malleable in terms of the role-modeling of parents? How do these ideas pertain to the characters in the book?

  2. Do you think the main character will be able to grow into the woman she would want to be? How might the experiences with her mother affect her future relationships with both men and women?

  3. What is the message in the book concerning mental illness? Do you believe certain illnesses can be cured, or primarily managed? Have you had any close family members or friends affected by mental illness? If so, how has this touched your own life?

  4. What role does the main character's sibling play in all of this?

  5. Discuss the title of the book. Does it properly represent the storyline of the book? What does Patty Hearst have to do with the memoir?

  6. What does the "Patty Hearst" image conjure up for you? Discuss those historical events in the context of the book.

  7. Do you believe that the children were abused and or neglected during the period of time described? How would you define abuse of a child? Are there different kinds of abuse? Would you consider some worse than others?

  8. Outside the immediate family, who knew about the ongoings of the family? What is the responsibility of friends and neighbors of families, teachers, etc. who deal with domestic issues like the ones described here? Should the children have been "saved" by someone? How would someone go about doing so in the first place?

  9. What is the main characters relationship with her mother at the end of the book? Do you think the two of them should continue on their journey to finding a place of peace or do you think that they are not able to have a functioning relationship given past occurrences and the mother's mental health?

  10. What did you find most compelling about the book?

  11. Did any parts of the book resonate with you? What kinds of emotions did the book bring out in you? Did you connect to any of it?

  12. What does it mean in popular culture to be "raised in the 70s?" What made that decade unique and also pertinent to the story?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Simon & Schuster. 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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