Thursday, February 2, 2012

Book Club Forum #24: The Bird House

Book Selection Status:  READ

Month: February 2012
Genre: Fiction
Book of the Month: The Bird House
Author: Kelly Simmons
Discussion Questions: 

1. Ann reveals within the first chapter that her memory is failing. How did this confession affect your reading? Was Ann an unreliable narrator? Explain your answer.

2. Bird houses are a recurring theme throughout the novel—besides the title itself, Ellie chooses bird houses for her "Aspect" school project. Do you think the bird houses hold some sort of symbolism? Why or why not?

3. Throughout the novel, we get bits and pieces of what Ann's husband, Theo, was like. Do you think Ann is fair with his depiction? If the novel had been narrated by Theo, how do you think he would have described himself? How would his perspective differ from Ann's?

4. In the beginning, Ann describes her daughter-in-law, Tinsley, as almost perfect. She even attributes her granddaughter's wonderful demeanor to Tinsley. When do you see Ann's opinion begin to change? Why do you think it changes so drastically? Do you think they will ever completely resolve their differences?

5. Ann thinks the world of Tom and Ellie. In her mind, they can do no wrong. Do you feel the same? Or do you think she is fiercely loyal to them because they are her flesh and blood?

6. Adultery recurs throughout the novel and is also a shared commonality between Ann, her mother, and Tinsley. How do you think this bonds the women together? Does this shared connection help them relate to one another? Or could it also have an opposite effect on their relationships?

7. Ann, her mother, and Tinsley all have completely different personalities and lead completely different lives. What do you think lead each woman to cheat on her partner?

8. There were multiple instances throughout the novel where Ann's daughter, Emma, acts in an odd, and even malicious, manner. Do you think this is a result or an effect of the anger and resentment she feels for losing her daughter at such a young age?

9. Do you blame Ann for her daughter's death? Do you think Ann blames herself? Why do you think she kept this a secret for such a long time?

10. When Ann confronts Tinsley about her affair, she claims to have the best intentions. Do you agree with how Ann handled this discussion? If you were in Ann's position, what would you have done?

11. Ann never gave her father the chance to give his side of the story, and after his death she discovers he was not her biological father. Do you think she should have given him the chance to explain himself? And do you think this was what he was trying to tell her?

12. Ann reveals a great deal about her past, and even present, to Ellie. Do you think this relationship was inappropriate? Why or why not?

13. On page 272, Ann says to Ellie: "'If you ever have to choose between a man who's serious and a man who's fun, choose the fun one. Promise me.'" Do you agree with Ann? Who do you think was the "fun one" and who was the serious one? Theo or Peter?

14. Did you like that the novel was told from only Ann's perspective? Or would you have a more objective, third person narrator?'