Reading guide for The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard

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The Scent of Rain and Lightning

A Novel

by Nancy Pickard

The Scent of Rain and Lightning
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  • First Published:
    May 2010, 336 pages
    Feb 2011, 352 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Engrossing, lyrical, and suspenseful, Nancy Pickard's The Scent of Rain and Lightning captures the essence of small-town America—its heartfelt intimacy and its darkest secrets—where through struggle and hardship people still dare to hope for a better future.

The questions and discussion topics that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Nancy Pickard's The Scent of Rain and Lightning

  1. The Scent of Rain and Lightning revolves around the theme of revenge. What does this novel tell us about the nature of revenge?
  2. The theme of forgiveness also plays a large role in the novel. How does the story reveal the challenges of forgiveness? Are the characters clearly in one camp or the other (revenge or forgiveness)? If so, how would you divide them?  And which characters, if any, bridge these emotions?
  3. What role does the community play in Billy's conviction? Can it be held culpable?
  4. How does the author use weather and landscape as symbols in her writing?
  5. Why does Pickard title her novel as she does? What is the meaning behind it?
  6. Having read the novel, do you think it's better or worse to live in a small town when dealing with a personal tragedy?
  7. What is the significance of the Testament Rocks?
  8. The Linders are portrayed as being the most influential family in the county. Do you think their power corrupted them in any way?  Do you think they tried to be good people?
  9. Even with the best intentions, good people can make terrible mistakes.  Do you think the Linders had good intentions? At what points did those intentions go wrong?
  10. What clues in the book led you to guess the true identity of the killer? Who do you think the real murderer is?
  11. Do you think Pickard laid sufficient groundwork for the discovery of the killer's identity to be believable? Can a person really hide their true character from so much family so successfully for so many years?
  12. Now that the truth is known, do you think that Jody Linder and Collin Crosby can ever truly be together?

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