Spellbinding stories of mystic love and soulful hope . . .  

Secret Graces Reader's Guide

Virginia Kate says, "Reminding some girls about their mommas made their eyes pinch up with sad and mad and hurt and hopes." Why is her reaction to hearing about other girls' mothers such a jumbled mixture of emotions?

"Why couldn't daughters outgrow their mothers, is what I wondered." Virginia Kate raises an excellent question. Why do you think it is so difficult for daughters to outgrow their mothers?

"I was part of her, no matter how late I came around." Virginia Kate thinks of Rebekha as "sanctuary." How is Rebekha salvation to Frederick and the children?

Micah closes his letter to Virginia Kate with the words "don't forget me, Micah." Explore the desire to belong so apparent in both Micah and Virginia Kate. Does Andy have those same feelings about belonging? What about Bobby?

Virginia Kate compares herself to "a tree with shallow roots that the storm would tear up and blow about." What does she mean?

"Come home," Virginia Kate hears her beloved West Virginia Mountain spirits call. Discuss the universal longing for home.

"I would be a part of something, the half to a whole," Virginia Kate thinks after Dylan proposes marriage. She imagines a home with her own children. "We'd all be happy. I wouldn't be lonely anymore." Discuss the faulty reasoning that leads us to think another person can make us happy. What does our culture teach women about marriage?

What is the importance to Virginia Kate to be the storyteller of her family? Explore the idea of storytelling as a preserver of culture and tradition. Why do you think storytelling is such a valued activity in the South?

Virginia Kate shares a powerful bond with her deceased Grandma Faith. Explore the possibility of supernatural communication. In addition, what of Miss Darla, for whom Virginia Kate has a spiritual or extra sensory bond; how does their relationship help guide Virginia Kate?

How does Virginia Kate delude herself into thinking Dylan's alcoholism is somehow different from her father's? Explore this paradox repeated by so many of us today.

After Jade tells her a secret, Virginia Kate thinks, "Men didn't like to know things and women liked to know too much. I wished to break the spell of women, but then most of us thought we'd do things different just as we stepped into the same messes we always had." Explore the "spell of women." Do you think Virginia Kate repeats her women-kin's mistakes? Have you ever deluded yourself into "messes," as Virginia Kate terms them?

Jade says, "Men let their habits out of the sack one piece at a time so women wouldn't run out screaming if they just dumped them all out on the counter at once." Is this true? Are men secretive by holding back their true natures? What about women's secrets?

How do secrets affect families, friends, and other relationships? How can secrets destroy? How is one healed when a secret is released?

Explain the symbolism of the old green Plymouth Fury station wagon Mee Maw Laudine gives to Virginia Kate. What does the vehicle represent for Virginia Kate?

Virginia Kate feels a kinship to the one sunflower that looks in a different direction from the others. In what ways does Virginia Kate look in a direction different from other people? Is she secure in her difference? Explain.

"I hope I stayed the same, stayed connected to my kin and my Grandma Faith," Virginia Kate says. Discuss the importance of family.

Virginia Kate is afraid of Gary's affection for her. Is she being smart? Or just afraid?

--Secret Graces Reader's Guide written by Mary Ann Ledbetter, writer & teacher, Baton Rouge, Louisiana