1. “Abigail Bennett was the definition of unexpected.” Explain. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why? How does Abigail change throughout the book? What is the impetus for that change?
2. Hailey’s mental illness affects everyone around her. What sort of emotions does Hailey evoke in you? Do you like her or dislike her? Do you have compassion for her or does she frustrate you? Explain.
3. How is Abigail shaped by her youth? What role does Lou play in her life? What role does Melody play in her life? What about Hailey?
4. Abigail calls herself a “lapsed Catholic.” Why do you think she has allowed her faith to lapse? Hailey, on the other hand, seems to cling to her faith. Why is her belief system so important to her?
5. Why is Abigail so driven to atone for her sister’s death? Do you understand her motivations? Why or why not? Why does she blame Tyler? Do you agree with her assessment of Tyler’s guilt?
6. Though she doesn’t claim to be a Christian, until she finds herself obsessed with Tyler, Abigail lives an exemplary, by-thebook life. Hailey, on the other hand, is a Christian, but there seems to be a disconnect between Hailey’s faith and her lifestyle choices. What does this seem to say about faith and actions? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
7. What does Eli mean when he asks Abigail, “What if your life is an offering poured out in a single glass?” Do you agree or disagree with his assessment of Abigail’s role in Hailey’s death?
8. In the final chapter, Abigail says, “If home is where the heart is, my heart has been homeless for a very long time.” And earlier in the book we learn that “her heart existed in many more places than simply the cage behind her arching rib bones.” What does she mean by that? Was there ever a time in your life when you could relate to these statements?
9. The symbol of communion is used repeatedly throughout the book in both obvious and subtle ways. Locate several references to the sacrament of communion. What purpose does this symbol serve?
10. Throughout history and even today there are many religious groups that consider suicide to be an unpardonable sin. In fact, some churches won’t even allow victims of suicide to be buried in the same cemetery as people who die of natural causes. Do you agree or disagree with this conviction? Why or why not?
11. Near the end of the book, Abigail narrates, “Hailey’s death, like her life, is an unfathomable mix of brokenness. And, I think, grace.” What does she mean by this? Do you agree that Hailey’s life is a mix of brokenness and grace? Use specific examples from the book.
12. In the final paragraphs of the book, Abigail talks about the irony of snow in the Summerlands. What other ironies can you pick out as you look back over the book? What metaphors stand out to you? What symbols do you find meaningful?