Use this discussion guide at your next book club meeting as a starter for conversation.
1. The book opens with a snapshot of a day in the life of a military med-evac unit. Ross Bellamy keeps two things close after the incident– a new awareness of the power of family ties, and the contact card given to him by Florence Kennedy. How do these two things come into play later in the story?
2. What is your first impression of George Bellamy? Does he remind you of anyone in your life? Can you create a really specific mental picture of your own grandfather? What did his voice and laughter sound like? How did he dress? What were some of his quirks? What did you enjoy doing with him?
3. What’s your first impression of Claire Turner? Did you sense something “off” about her right away? What details give you insight into her situation?
4. If you were ever forced to disappear to save your own life, what specific steps would you take to make it happen? What is the fantasy element of doing this? What are the drawbacks?
5. How is being a private care nurse for the terminally ill a perfect job for Claire? What are some of the issues she might face as a result of having this job, year in and year out? What are some of the hidden blessings?
6. Why does Claire feel so vulnerable in a small town like Avalon? What do you suppose was going through George’s head as he revisited the places of his youth? The Sky River Bakery and Camp Kioga in particular were important parts of his past. What emotions do they seem to bring up in the present?
7. Describe the dynamic between Ross, his mother and his best friend Natalie. How do these relationships fall short? In what ways is Ross haunted by war? Why does this make him eager to get on with his life?
8. If you knew, as George did, that time is running out for you, what kinds of things would you pursue in the time you had left? Make a list in order of importance.