Use this discussion guide at your next book club meeting as a starter for conversation.
First time novelist Robert Barclay delivers a poignant and deeply moving story of love, hope, forgiveness, and second chances in If Wishes Were Horses. Using the luscious Floridian landscape as a backdrop to this heart-warming tale, Robert introduces us to Wyatt Blaine, Gabby MacPhereson, and Trevor MacPhereson, three characters whose lives are inextricably intertwined when Gabby's husband, Jason, kills Wyatt's wife and child in a drunk driving accident. So begins the story of the road to healing and forgiveness.
Devastated by the senseless deaths of his wife and son, Wyatt is searching for a reason to go on. Unable to find any sense of peace, he turns to one of his late wife Krista's passions, running an equine therapy program for troubled teens at the Blaine family ranch. As Wyatt prepares to restart the program, he hopes to put old wounds behind him, and to find new purpose in his shattered life.
But then Gabby MacPhereson, the widow of the man responsible for Wyatt's unbearable pain, begs Wyatt to welcome her son, Trevor, into the program. Wyatt agrees, but remains deeply troubled by his decision. As Trevor begins to respond, Wyatt, Gabby, and Trevor unexpectedly find themselves being drawn nearer toward each other. But to completely heal, these three troubled souls separated by a common tragedy will be forced to explore the true natures of love and forgiveness, and do so in ways that they had never imagined.
- At one point in the story, Trevor confides in Ram, Wyatt's father, that he is being bullied at school. Ram advises him: "Never wrestle in the mud with a pig, because you'll both get dirty, and the pig just plain likes it." Is this good advice? Would you give it your child, were he or she in the same situation?
- Ram's wife lost an unborn child early in their marriage, a tragedy that they kept secret from their sons, Wyatt and Morgan. Were they right to do so? Why? If the same thing happened to you, what would you do?
- When Gabby fell from her horse, she became incensed at Wyatt for persuading her to go against her better judgment. Though she had a right to be upset, was she too harsh in her anger? How would you have reacted? Would you have accepted his apology?
- Before reading If Wishes Were Horses, were you familiar with equine therapy? How much did you know about it? If it was new to you, how much did you learn? Why do you think this kind of therapy works, especially with people like Trevor, where other methods might fail?
- Do you see Wyatt's equine therapy program as being safe enough for your child? Would you recommend this kind of program to someone having problems? Would you enroll your own child?
- Do you agree that Gabby seems to understand her feelings for Wyatt before he realizes he, too, is in love? Do you think that this is usually the case in romantic relationships? Use your own experiences to argue your position.
- Though she knows how she feels, does Gabby wait too long to tell Wyatt that she loves him? What might have been different if she had?
- When Trevor is forced to shoot Sadie, he decides to leave his windbreaker and belt behind. Why? What did this gesture signify for the boy?
- When at last Wyatt realizes that his heart is free to move on, he visits Krista's grave, and tells her so. Why was it important for him to share this revelation with his dead wife? Have you ever done something like this? If so, what did it mean to you?
- At the end of the book, Wyatt and Gabby read Ram's heartfelt letter. Have you ever written—or received—such a letter? How would they have reacted if they'd read his words earlier? How did time and distance affect their emotions?
- What lessons did you take away from reading If Wishes Were Horses?