Discussion Questions

1. The author highlights several plights of modern society in her novel: drug usage, lack of adequate resources/oversight for the mentally ill, consumer debt, etc. Which of these do you think is the most pressing of issues?

2. Kate does a 180 degree shift in the way she handles her son's incarceration for drug usage. The spark for the book was ignited by Kate having taken out a P.O. box to use to correspond with her son. However, she is now quite public about her family's struggle with having someone you love battle drug addiction. Do you support her "going public" or do you feel it was exploitative?

3. For which character did you feel the most empathy? The least?

4. Very early in the novel, we glimpse that Thomas has psychopathic tendencies. Assuming financial resources weren't a consideration, what type of programs/therapy do you think could've helped him and his mother?

5. It was only at the end of the novel that we learned Kate was actually an autobiographical character. Do you think you would've appreciated knowing that at the beginning of the book?

6. Which part of the book did you find the most difficult to read?

7. We only get a flavor of what life was like for Michael when he was incarcerated. Do you think a heroin addict should be imprisoned alongside violent felons such as rapists? If not, how should drug addicts be treated differently?

8. The author clearly illustrates that heroin/drug usage is not just a ghetto problem, but a suburban problem. In the spirit of getting this issue out of the closet, and if you are comfortable, please share any connections you have personally had with a loved one and drug addiction.