1. Chapter 1 begins, “The first person to hold Ruby was the last person to let her go. That was her mother, Kitty.” What do you think Lucy meant by this statement?
2. Lucy, by no choice of her own, has never lived in a traditional family, but she has been sheltered first by Ruby and then by Kitty. Do you think Lucy calling her mother and grandmother by their first names indicates a healthy adaptation of family for her? a confused sense of family? What is the relationship of Lucy to her mother, Ruby? to her grandmother, Kitty? How are these different or the same?
3. What is the significance of the names Lucy and Ruby– in general and specifically to each of them?
4. What do you think of Kitty’s question upon Ruby’s death? How can God allow terrible things to happen? Why doesn’t he protect children from horrible things?
5. What questions and issues does Lucy tuck away when Ruby dies? Do you think Kitty’s efforts to keep so many secrets were to shield Lucy from pain or to protect herself? Were her intentions noble or selfish?
6. Could Lucy have become whole without learning the truth about Ruby? about Kitty? Why or why not? Did Kitty ever become whole?
7. Each woman in the novel has artistic talents and interests– piano, art, quilting, literature. What parallels do you see between Lucy’s artistic pursuits and those of Ruby and Kitty? And what parallels do you see in other aspects of the story?
8. Why do you think Lucy and Kitty keep so many of Ruby’s things?
9. How might the references to air and breath and to Ruby’s and Lucy’s asthma inhalers be symbolic?
10. When Lucy, with Max, first sees the fountain in La Rosaleda, how might its streams be meaningful to her?
11. What does the scenery in the novel–gardens, vineyards, La Rosaleda–evoke? Do the roses and vines bear any significance to the rest of the story? What parallels do you see?
12. In the end, what did Lucy mean by “a homecoming”?