Book Club Questions for The Rice Birds:
What does the title of the book mean? How might the birds be a metaphor for Nora and Pearl?
Do you see Pearl as having taken Clare’s place in Nora’s heart?
Nora spends much of the book coping with loss. What does she learn from Pearl and Frederick Simmons about dealing with loss?
Were there any historical facts that you found surprising?
Why did Pearl’s mother put pecans and a tattered dress inside the sack?
At the end, how did you feel? Are you hopeful that Nora and Pearl will have a better life?
How did the mountain setting provide a contrast to Annaliese’s and Lucenia’s former lives of comfort in Louisville?
In what ways did these two women grow?
Which relationship is parallel to the destruction of the forests?
What are some of the ironies in the plot?
Do you see a similarity between the mayapple plant and John Stregal’s brief life?
Which scenes provide foreshadowing?
Which scenes struck you as insightful, even profound?
Which characters remained with you for a while after you finished the book?
Annaliese, Sound and True takes place during America’s Progressive era at the turn of the last century. Which of this book’s progressive themes—sustainable forestry, women’s empowerment, improved wages and opportunities for the South’s rural poor, exposing child labor abuses in factories—appealed to you most?
Many families have stories of strong women from generations past who defied convention to make a difference for a community or in a profession. Is there such a story in your family?
Can you identify with Annaliese’s uncertainty about how to handle Henry and his intentions?
Do you believe that Annaliese and Ruth could forgive each other? What will their relationship look like in ten, twenty years?
Why do you think Annaliese agreed to visit Ruth’s cousin, Zero, the woman who “sees the truth of things”?
The Meddling sisters were downright invasive with their nosiness. Do you think they have good intentions when it comes to Annaliese and her children?
Annaliese realizes that she likes driving the events of her life instead of watching from the sidecar. Can you remember a time when you decided you were going to drive your life?
Do you find the forgiveness at the end (in Atlanta) believable?
Do you think the letter Annaliese receives at the end of the book will bring her some peace?