The Late Bloomers’ Club discussion questions
- Small town stories. How do you feel about small town stories? What do you think accounts for their popularity? What dynamics are present, or more easily illustrated, in a story set in a small town that makes for compelling reading? What limitations do you see to this setting?
- Sisters. Which unstoppable Huckleberry sister did you most relate to—Nora or Kit? What characteristics drew you to her?
- Community and development. Both sides of the town make compelling arguments for the HG cooperation to stay out of or come to town, with one side seeing the positives in growth, and the other side seeing the positives in preservation. Did Nora make the decision you expected? Would you have decided the same thing were you in her place? Could you make an argument for the opposite side of the coin?
- Blooming. Nora states that she didn’t feel like she had started her life yet because she was busy taking care of her mom and dad, Kit, Miss Guthrie’s dinner, and Sean (p. 160). Do you think she was a late bloomer, or already blooming in those roles? Is there a moment when people know their life has begun?
- Tough love. Max contends that sometimes you have to “be the person that makes someone unhappy.” (p. 162) Max also later contends that “All the suffering that is in the world arises from wishing ourselves to be happy. All the happiness there is in the world arises from wishing others to be happy.” (p. 229) Which philosophy do you agree with? Do you think these two are in conflict?
- Artistic inspiration. Artists often take inspiration from their life and the lives of the people around them. Do you think Kit crossed the line by including Nora’s story in her work?
- Structure. The structure of the story is told in first person, but with the help of “announcements” in the form of the Guthrie Front Porch Forum. Did the perspectives of the other townspeople add to the story? How would you have experienced Guthrie differently without them? Is there anyone in the story you would have liked to have heard from more?
- Bad guys. This was a novel without a villain. There was conflict, but no “bad guy.” How does that kind of story impact your reading experience? Who were you cheering for the most?
- Recipe for happiness. Max’s “recipe” for happiness is: “Pay attention, follow the directions, use good ingredients, practice technique, share with friends…” (p. 95) His directions for cake work just as well for art, or life. Do you have a “recipe” for happiness?