Jan Surasky

Discussion Questions

  1. The author introduces you to the main characters immediately in the first chapter. How would you describe each of the members of the Parker family?
  2. Do you have people in your own families who resemble a Parker family member?
  3. The Parker family has a number of problems due to the loss of their husband/father in a threshing accident. How do they cope?
  4. What are some of the more outstanding characteristics of the main protagonist, Annie May? What do you think of her?
  5. What does Annie May think of the farmhand/neighbor Will Vanderwort? How does she express her feelings toward him?
  6. Annie May is certain that spirits inhabit the family farmhouse. What does she think when she finds the trove of dusty journals in the attic? What most impresses her when she reads the stories of her family ancestors?
  7. What do you think of her ancestor who joins the Civil War army to aid his country? What are some of the problems he faces?
  8. What do you think of the half Native American girl who must live in two worlds whose mother is a tribal princess and whose father is a white trader?
  9. What do you think of the boy who is taken from a British wharf and put into indentured slavery and who escapes and returns to England to right that wrong and honor his family?
  10. What do you think of the Shay’s Rebellion survivor who escapes with a price on his head and founds an entire city?
  11. What do you think of the gypsy girl whose tribe was forced to wander and who yearned for a home of her own?
  12. Do you have ancestors who were courageous whether in a dramatic way or a more ordinary way who make you proud?
  13. Georgie feels lonely when Will, who has taken over the male influence for him since Georgie’s father died, and Carrie go off to college and he tells Annie May. Annie May responds by telling him “They’re not leaving you, Georgie. No one ever leaves anyone when they love them.” Do you agree with that?
  14. Georgie loves farming and looks forward to taking over the family farm when he finishes high school. How does the family feel when he is drafted into the army?
  15. How does Annie May feel when Georgie writes that he has gotten married to a Vietnamese woman he met at a USO dance? How does Mama feel in contrast?
  16. After the news of Georgie’s death in the service of his country the Parker family receives a letter from a friend of Georgie’s wife Anh Ly telling them that Anh Ly had been expecting a baby but could not get the news to Georgie because he was at the front lines and was killed before the news could reach him. Anh Ly leaves the baby with her village family but they can no longer feed Anh Ly who takes to the streets of Saigon to beg but dies of starvation. What is Annie May’s reaction to the news and photo of the baby Mai Li?
  17. When Annie May flies to Saigon to search for Mai Li she feels her family’s ances tral spirits are with her. Have you ever had the feeling that your ancestors are watching over you?
  18. The Parker family’s ancestral heritage is a guiding light for Annie May through out the book. How is her decision to search for Mai Li a contribution to that? How do you think your own ancestral heritage has impacted your life?