Reading guide for Mercies in Disguise by Gina Kolata

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Mercies in Disguise

A Story of Hope, a Family's Genetic Destiny, and the Science That Rescued Them

by Gina Kolata

Mercies in Disguise by Gina Kolata X
Mercies in Disguise by Gina Kolata
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2018, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. What is the meaning of the title, Mercies in Disguise? What mercies are apparent for the family members? Do the family members see different mercies?
  2. If you knew that you were at risk for a fatal genetic condition that had no cure, would you want to be tested for the genetic mutation? Why or why not? What if the person at risk were your child? Your spouse?
  3. Why do you think the history of the Fore in New Guinea was included? How did the discovery of Kuru lay a foundation for discoveries about GSS and other prion diseases?
  4. What role do chance or coincidence play in scientific discoveries discussed in the book? What role does scientific collaboration play?
  5. What role did each member of the family (Tim, Mike, Buddy, and the others) play in uncovering the diagnosis? Would they have been likely to find a diagnosis without this collaboration?
  6. Why was it so difficult to obtain a diagnosis, even in a family with medical backgrounds and with access to expert neurologists?
  7. How does knowing that they have the mutation affect some of the individuals in the book? Are there unexpected consequences from knowing their diagnosis? How are individuals who learn they do not have the mutation affected by that knowledge?
  8. How do you feel about the choice of a family member who opts not to be tested? Can you understand their POV?
  9. Each individual makes their own decision to pursue genetic testing. How much do religious views versus scientific knowledge impact their decision? Are religious views necessarily at odds with scientific mindviews?
  10. How does our increasing ability to test for genetic illnesses before they occur affect your views on the importance of protecting the privacy of medical records?
  11. How did Bill Baxley, Sr.'s experience with the disease differ from that of his sons? Did knowing the name of the disease affect Billy and Buddy's hope as the illness progressed?
  12. Why did Amanda's mother, Kathy, ask her to wait to be tested until after her father had died? Do you believe her father, Buddy, wanted her to be tested? Why or why not?
  13. Which Baxley family member did you find yourself relating to the most? Why?


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

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Genetic Testing

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Trust Exercise
    Trust Exercise
    by Susan Choi
    At face value, Susan Choi's latest release, Trust Exercise, appears to be a familiar story. ...
  • Book Jacket: An American Summer
    An American Summer
    by Alex Kotlowitz
    As a Chicagoan, I've become used to the most common reactions when I'm traveling and tell someone ...
  • Book Jacket: The Sun Is a Compass
    The Sun Is a Compass
    by Caroline Van Hemert
    Caroline Van Hemert fell in love with her future husband, Pat, in 2001, discovering they shared a ...
  • Book Jacket: Women Talking
    Women Talking
    by Miriam Toews
    Miriam Toews' Women Talking is a circadian novel, unfolding over a span of just a few hours and ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    D-Day Girls
    by Sarah Rose

    The dramatic story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain's elite spy agency to help pave the way for Allied victory.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    When We Left Cuba
    by Chanel Cleeton

    An exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

A masterpiece of storytelling, and a 2018 Oprah's Book Club Selection.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win Women Rowing North

The instant New York Times bestseller

A guide to wisdom, authenticity, and bliss for women as they age.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A B Penny A T U

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.