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Reading guide for All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss

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All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss

All the Little Hopes

A Novel

by Leah Weiss
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  • Jul 2021
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Lucy's mother points out that language is meant to communicate, not separate, which discourages Lucy from overusing her enormous vocabulary. Throughout the book, how do you see language used to communicate? To separate?
  2. What do you think of Bert's desire to stay a girl instead of growing into a woman? How do we see Bert and Lucy accept growing up throughout the book? What are the chief differences you see between childhood and adulthood back in the 1940s as compared to today?
  3. Describe the role of the Browns in their community. What are the broad effects of being a bibliophile?
  4. Bert tends to blame herself when things go wrong—her mother dying, her father sending her away, Violet locking her out. Why do you think that is? Is it more of a female trait? Are there things you blame yourself for that really aren't your fault?
  5. What do you think about the mystery of Trula Freed? Was her magic plausible? Have you ever had an experience with a spiritualist or medium?
  6. Lucy and Bert argue about treating Nancy Drew like a real person. Can you think of any literary characters that you wish were real or who felt as real to you?
  7. Though purple honey in North Carolina is rare but real, what role does it play in the book? Did it arrive just to cure the mysterious flu, or is it a symbol for something larger?
  8. Whiz Mayhew comes home from the war with what we might now call PTSD, and his homecoming is difficult. In his drunken state he confesses that the Nazis didn't shoot him when given a chance because they didn't think he was worth it. What was he confessing in that statement? How did his community help him heal? Do we have better options today to help soldiers with PTSD?
  9. Describe the relationship between the Riverton community and the German POWs. What effect does Terrell Stucky have on the reputation of the POWs? How do the Germans come to be an accepted part of the town?
  10. When Bert was almost compromised, her greatest sorrow was that Frankie Tender never asked her name. Discuss the importance of that missing question and the consequence for Frankie Tender. If he had asked her name, would the evening have ended differently or not?
  11. Helen refuses to interact with the Germans in any capacity. What do other characters think of her stubbornness? What does her stubbornness cost her? Do you think you would be as resistant in her place?
  12. During her father's funeral, Bert realizes how much she's changed since she left home. Do you agree with her sister that she doesn't belong to the mountains anymore? How is "home" defined throughout the book?
  13. None of the vanished men are particularly missed, and each presented a certain kind of danger to the community. How does Larry Crumbie's domestic abuse compare to Frankie Tender's callous seduction? To Terrell Stuckey's hate mongering and murder? Do you think these men deserved their fates?
  14. Did Lucy, Bert, and Irene do the right thing when they found Tiny Junior's souvenirs? Would you have done the same?
  15. What do you think comes next for Lucy and Bert and the rest of the Brown family? How do you think their experiences and decisions will affect their futures?


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Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Sourcebooks. 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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