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

    Genres

  • 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 will 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" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Genetic Testing

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Poet's House
    The Poet's House
    by Jean Thompson
    Seasoned author Jean Thompson's previous novels include A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl, The Humanity...
  • Book Jacket
    Some of It Was Real
    by Nan Fischer
    Nan Fischer is an Oregon Book Award finalist for her previous novels When Elephants Fly and The ...
  • Book Jacket: The Most Precious Substance on Earth
    The Most Precious Substance on Earth
    by Shashi Bhat
    Think of all the worst parts of puberty — all the moments you partially miss or brood about ...
  • Book Jacket
    Lightning Strike
    by William Kent Krueger
    It is the summer of 1963 in Tamarack County, Minnesota. Just outside the small town of Aurora, ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
All the Lonely People
by Mike Gayle
A cozy novel for fans of A Man Called Ove. A widowed retiree will rediscover the world he’s turned his back on.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Widowland
    by C. J. Carey

    A thrilling feminist dystopian novel set in an alternate 1950s Britain under the control of the Third Reich.

  • Book Jacket

    Dirt Creek
    by Hayley Scrivenor

    "A heart-wrenching mystery, Scrivenor's remarkable sense of place brings Dirt Creek to life. A stellar debut."
    —Jane Harper,

Who Said...

The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wishes W H B W R

and be entered to win..

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.