Reading guide for A Question of Mercy by Elizabeth Cox

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A Question of Mercy

A Novel

by Elizabeth Cox

A Question of Mercy by Elizabeth Cox X
A Question of Mercy by Elizabeth Cox
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Oct 2016, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. A disturbing moral choice lies at the center of this novel. How did you respond to that choice? Would you have made that same choice, or a different one? What would have happened if that choice had not been made? How do you think the choice affected (and will always affect) Jess Booker?
  2. How does the Korean War serve as a backdrop for this novel? What do you learn from the letters that Sam writes to Jess? How would you compare Sam's experience in the war to Jess's experience?
  3. What does Calder Finney add to the ongoing story? How is he central to the novel?
  4. How do you understand Adam through the "sensory" sections which focus on his experience of the world?
  5. Describe the relationship between Edward Booker and Clementine Finney?
  6. Clementine Finney's complexity is sometimes disturbing. Do you understand her struggle?
  7. The Boardinghouse section offers a place of healing and humor. How does this healing happen? What did this family of characters in the boardinghouse add to the novel?
  8. What do you learn at the trial about Cadwell Institution/Asylum? Why do you think Clementine changes her mind?
  9. Why did the author end with an Adam section and the emphasis on drowning?
  10. What is the effect of a two-page prologue beginning with Jess and her father talking to a lawyer?
  11. The novel moves back and forth through time. The final move back in time comes when we learn what happened that day at the river. What was your feeling about Jess's guilt or lack of guilt at that moment?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Story River Books. 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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