Leave No Trace (Mejia) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. Leave No Trace is set in present-day Minnesota, both in the wilderness of the Boundary Waters and its more urban landscapes. What details does Mejia use to create atmosphere and build the setting? How does place affect the action of the story?

2. What was your first impression of Maya? Did your feelings toward her change throughout the novel? What did you think of her when she confessed to killing Derek?

3. Family relationships are at the heart of Leave No Trace; compare and contrast the parent-child relationships in the novel. What themes does Mejia explore within these relationships?

4. The geography of the Boundary Waters is integral to Leave No Trace. Note the way Mejia balances the beauty and danger of this remote location in her descriptions. What passages do you find most emphasize the unique place?

5. The other "disappeared" people Mejia mentions in the story, such as Ho Van Thanh, Agafia Lykov, and Christopher Knight, are all real people. Pick one or two and research their stories. Which disappearance most intrigues you? What do you think captures the imagination about people living away from society?

6. What role does the Bannockburn shipwreck play in the novel? How does its story parallel the stories of characters in Leave No Trace?

7. At the end of the novel, Mejia writes, "There are some places, though, we can only go alone." Think about the spaces (physical, mental, emotional) that Mejia’s characters experience by themselves. Are there any common factors?

8. As you read along, what did you think happened to Josiah, Lucas, Heather, and Jane? How did it differ from what is revealed at the end of the novel?

9. Extreme circumstances and intertwined history aside, what do you think attracts Maya and Lucas to each other? What similar personality traits do you see in these two characters?

10. "I was the girl who didn’t need anyone and made sure things stayed that way.… My life was lonely, but there was something vital in the loneliness, an imperative that I keep the space around me empty and weightless," Maya thinks to herself after Lucas comes to her home and begins to break down her emotional barriers. How does Mejia draw the distinction between solitude and loneliness? Who in the novel would you deem lonely and who lives in solitude? How do their situations change during the course of the novel?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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