Dear Book Club Members:
I hope you enjoy reading and discussing Rubbing Stones in your Book Club. I would love to hear back from you about how these discussion questions worked for your group and if you have any suggestions for changes or additions. Just send me a message through the Contact Form.
Rubbing Stones Discussion Questions
1. Jane felt that her son, Michael, needed to see another side of life. What ways have you found to help yourself, friends, or your family become more aware of other people’s circumstances?
2. Katura and Thabani discussed their different views of how their parents relate to each of the three siblings. Parents often try to ‘treat each child the same,’ and yet this can be nearly impossible given the different needs and personalities of each child. How has this theme played out in your own family?
3. Jane’s ex-husband, Glenn, decided to make Michael spend the night in jail without consulting Jane. Parenting, either by divorced parents, or non-divorced parents, can bring out differences in parenting styles. Exposure of those differences has an impact on all parties involved. In what circumstances have you had to stifle your own judgment as you realize that overriding another person’s decision might have even worse consequences?
4. In a combination of desperation and fear, sprinkled with a fair amount of naivety, Katura is left on her own to resolve the mystery of what is happening around her, and puts herself in danger as a result. In hindsight, what kinds of dangers did you subject yourself to as an adolescent and what were the driving forces involved?
5. Jane and Paul have very different attitudes towards their captors. Jane attempts to get close whereas Paul remains hostile towards them throughout. They both had their children’s lives at stake in addition to their own. How do you imagine you would have interacted with Shelly, Japera, Thabani, or Zuka?
6. At one point it seems that Katura is likely to be assaulted by her captor, Changa. She is quick-witted, but also quite lucky. Unfortunately these kinds of experiences are all too common for young women in all societies. What do you think could be done to help change the frequency and impact of these events?
7. Paul, Michael, Jane, and even Rick work independently at times to change their situation, often in the dark about what the others are doing. How does their lack of communication about each others’ plans help or hurt their efforts and the ultimate outcome?
8. The conflict about whether a particular end justifies the means is played out in a variety of ways in Rubbing Stones, both politically and personally. Zuka’s father is in favor of a political cause, but not in violence. Zuka thinks political freedom will only be won through drastic, attention-grabbing events.
a) In what ways have you or your family struggled with the question of whether ends justifies the means, either personally or professionally?
b) How did you feel about the way Jane handled this in her relationship with Zuka?
9. Michael and Jake’s relationship shifts over time, in ways that show a deepening of their reliance on and respect for each other. What kinds of family relationship shifts have you experienced or observed that came as a direct result of traumatic or otherwise powerful events?
10. The willingness to be self-sacrificing is a theme in Rubbing Stones. This can happen in big events in families as well as small, daily, acts of generosity. Can you think of specific times in which you have you been particularly impressed by the generous acts of a friend or loved one?