Jan Surasky

Discussion Questions

  1. Lily is an independent child early on. What factors contribute to her independence? How does she show her independence?
  2. As an only child Lily is often lonely. What does she most often do to fill those lonely hours?
  3. Lily spends much of her early childhood in the Cross Timbers, a rare ancient forest indigenous to Oklahoma. What are the drawbacks of such an unusual forest? What are the benefits as described by the author? Can you add some benefits of your own? How does spending so many hours among these ancient trees impact Lily?
  4. Wohali, the Native American boy Lily meets in the Cross Timbers, is a complex character. Up until their meeting Lily only knows of Native Americans through seeing them as workers at her father’s mines and hearing about them as employees from her father. How does she perceive Wohali when they first meet?
  5. Wohali and Lily are raised in completely different cultures. What are some of the differences between the two? What are some of the similarities?
  6. How did Lily and Wohali bridge the gap of their two different cultures?
  7. Lily also makes friends with Jamie, her father’s mine foreman’s son, a boy who is somewhat older than she. What is their friendship like?
  8. Carmelita, known as Lita, is not only Lily’s cousin, she is Lily’s best friend. They are opposites in nature. What draws them together?
  9. When Lily arrives in Boston, what are some of the contrasts she sees to the territory she grew up in? How does she respond to these contrasts?
  10. Lily is a good student at Miss Stanford’s school and fits well into Boston society and its manners. But, what are her own thoughts about a society so different from the one she grew up in? How do her thoughts differ from Lita’s?
  11. How does Lily respond to the relationship between Lita and Harper?
  12. Lily makes friends with a number of socialites her own age. How does she respond to them?
  13. Although Lily has many offers of courtship she finds none that appeal to her for marriage. What stands in her way?
  14. Do you think the story that Lily’s grandmother tells Lily of why her father left his family and its wealth so abruptly to strike out on his own impacts her?
  15. How do the natural environments of Oklahoma and Boston and the attitudes of their settlers toward them affect the societies they both become? How do the two societies differ in their approach to their natural surroundings? How do you think your own natural surroundings have affected you?
  16. In what ways does Lily represent the courage of those who settled the west? How would you have approached the life of a settler in the early days of this country’s rugged territories?