Use this discussion guide at your next book club meeting as a starter for conversation.
Determined to find a missing piece of her past and her own identity, elementary school teacher Jane Aaron cancels her summer vacation plans and goes to Cedar Springs, Texas to find her birth mother. Asher Price, a wealthy advertising executive whose wife was killed in a car accident two years ago, hires Jane to look after his thirteen-year-old daughter Riley and five-year-old son Levi. Around town, Jane learns that Asher’s late wife had a drinking problem and suffered from bipolar disorder, making life for those around her difficult.
As June turns into July, Jane finds herself growing attached to Riley and Levi and discovers how a woman can come to love children she didn’t give birth to, just as her adoptive mother must have done. She and Asher are falling in love with each other, but he refuses to talk about his late wife, whose presence still fills the house. At summer’s end, Jane goes back home to her teaching job in Houston broken-hearted. But when her mother remembers a clue that takes her back to Cedar Springs, Jane learns more about her birth mother and why she gave Jane up.
- The book opens with Susanna’s wild ride and her devastating car crash. Discuss the author’s choice of this scene for the prologue. How does Susanna’s rather glorious death inform the rest of the book?
- Jane is intent on finding her birth mother. Do you agree with her cousin Vickie, that some things are best left unknown?
- Why does Jane feel the need to uproot her whole life and move to Cedar Springs? What does she feel she needs that can’t be accomplished in phone calls and weekend trips?
- Jane’s decisions impact those around her, but she doesn’t consider anyone else when she makes her abrupt departures and returns. She also refuses to consider that her birth mother might want to retain her privacy and not be found. Is Jane selfish or just driven?
- Jane has a fantastic, supportive family, a job, friends, and a great boyfriend. Why does she still feel incomplete? How would you feel in her situation – would you be content with the life you’d built, or would you need to know more about your past to inform your future?
- Jane puts her life on hold to move to Cedar Springs, but once there, she is very slow to get started on researching her birth mother, and puts off her thesis entirely. Why is she stalling?
- Do you see anything symbolic about the name of Asher’s house, “Summer’s End”?
- One Season of Sunshine has a great cast of supporting characters, such as Laru, the small-town busybody who knows everyone; Vickie, Jane’s outspoken cousin; Riley, Asher’s difficult but sweet preteen daughter; and Levi, Asher’s precocious five-year-old son. Who was your favorite, and why?
- Why does Jane feel such a sense of peace from knowing her birth mother’s name and a tiny amount of her history? Did she find what she was looking for?
- Jane and Asher both discuss traveling abroad in attempts to “find themselves.” Why do you think it was necessary for them to strike out to an unknown place to do so?
- Jane says that Susanna helped bring her and Asher together. Do you believe in fate, or was that just a coincidence?
- Why do you think the author chose the title One Season of Sunshine? What does it mean to you?