Discussion Questions for Book Clubs

As the Sycamore Grows

Discussion Questions

  1. Of the scenes in As the Sycamore Grows, which were the most memorable for you? Which were the most shocking, the most inspiring, the funniest?
  2. The story opens with Ginger’s escape.  Why do you think the author opens with that scene, and how does it set the stage for the rest of the book?
  3. Ginger’s fondest memory of her father was when they went gigging for flounder. What does this scene show about their relationship? How did their relationship affect the rest of the story?
  4. Mike said over and over he never wanted to be like his dad. How did he succeed and how did he fail?
  5. What patterns do you see in both Ginger’s and Mike’s families?
  6. What were the warning signs and why did Ginger ignore them?
  7. Why didn’t Ginger just leave?
  8. Ginger’s spiritual needs were shaped by her family and her experience in two congregations. Mike came to religion late. What role did religion play in their relationship?
  9. One reviewer charged that Americans disdain Islamic societies’ treatment of women without seeing the suppression and control of some Christian faiths within our borders. Discuss this issue drawing solely on Ginger’s experiences.
  10. When her boys became defiant about going to their group session in the shelter, Ginger turned to Mike for help. Were you surprised at his response? What do you think of their relationship after the shelter? What does it say about each of them?
  11. Discuss the metaphor of the sycamore tree. What did the tree represent? Was it fitting in the title As the Sycamore Grows?
  12. What distinguishes this book from other stories of hardscrabble living or abuse?
  13. When Ginger drove through the padlocked gate, she left behind her life with Mike. What else did she escape? What is this book about?
  14. Where did Ginger turn for help? What resources are available in your community?
    How would you help someone in a similar situation?