1. Jack’s death was expected, whereas Laurel’s was a surprise. Do you think one way is preferable to the other? Are there things you can do to help prepare yourself for a loved one’s demise?
2. A&P adopts the nickname that others had given to mock her, telling herself, “nicknames mean you matter” (p. 5). Have you ever had a nickname you didn’t like? How might you have turned it around to give it a positive meaning?
3. The youngest Cooper child, Malcolm, has been away for two years. Would he have returned to Woodstock earlier if he’d known his father was dying of cancer? Should he have returned sooner?
4. When Malcolm does return home, he discovers a secret his parents kept from him. Have you ever discovered secrets held by someone you loved after he or she had passed on? How did your discovery affect your feelings about that person?
5. Why did Laurel try to keep Malcolm’s parentage a secret? Would Jack and Malcolm have been happier if she had?
6. When Sam was 17, she ran away to New York City to pursue her dream of having an acting career. Though she got a small part in a show called “Curtains” she eventually stopped pursuing her dream. How and why did this happen? Is it admirable or disappointing that Samantha puts other’s needs ahead of her dreams?
7. When reading her father’s letters, Samantha learns that he paid for the part in the show she got. Yet she’s not angry about this. Why not? Was this the act of a loving parent or a controlling father? Does learning this secret change Samantha’s view of herself?
8. Aside from the Coopers, who is your favorite character and why?
9. oe is finally able to give up alcohol because the girl he nearly killed forgave him—even visiting him and frequently writing him letters while he was in prison. What is the novel saying about the relationship between forgiveness and self-acceptance? Where else are these themes worked through the novel?
10. Matthew and Monica’s marriage is troubled by their childlessness. Would it have lasted if they hadn’t been able to adopt a child? What does a child bring to a couple like Matthew and Monica?
11. What does Nathan’s inability to trust Rain say about him? Is there such a thing as a healthy skepticism?
12. Discuss Malcolm’s development over the course of the novel. How do the letters play a part in his journey to maturity? What is it about letters that gives them such power? When was the last time you wrote a letter?
13. It takes an unusual spirit to forgive your rapist—and even welcome him into your community. Could you—like Jack and Laurel—accept Pastor Doug as a man of God?
14. Does The Wednesday Letters inspire you to start any traditions of your own?
(Questions issued by publisher.)
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