The Space Between Us discussion questions

  1. What were your first impressions of this book? 
  2. Love and loneliness seem to go hand-in-hand for both women. How are their relationships similarly troubled? How are they different? 
  3. Despite Sera’s kindness to Bhima, she ultimately benefits from Bhima’s lack of education, lower class, poverty and labor. How does this power dynamic change the relationship? What factors bond the women?
  4. In this story, poverty constantly hovers near. Bhima once remarks that “even tears are a luxury.” (p. 12). In the author’s note, Thrity Umrigar states: “poverty… takes all the spontaneity out of life, it makes you agonize over the smallest decisions.” How does poverty limit the choices of the characters? Does having weath limit or change the choices of any of the characters?
  5. The Space Between Us is also a story about familial love, and this devotion ultimately drives each woman’s choices. Do you think they chose rightly? 
  6. How would the family’s fate have been different if Bhima had been educated?
  7. The author uses storytelling to jump around in the timeline and to give the reader insights through flashbacks. Bhima says, “the past is always present” (p. 248). How does this structure change how the novel is told? Did anything surprise you about the characters?
  8. In this novel, we get to hear the women’s stories. How might this story have been different if we had heard it from the men’s point of view—from Viraf’s, or Feroz’s, or Gopal’s?
  9. Every character is breaking some sort of rule in a way—class, marriage, laws. Whose do you think is the most unforgivable? Whose rule-breaking do you applaud?
  10. This novel is set thoroughly in its time and place. And yet, it’s no exaggeration to say the themes it addresses affect every one of us, wherever we are. How so? 
  11. From the prologue, did you guess which character it was standing at the edge of the sea? At the end, did you think she was going to make a different choice? Did you consider the ending to be hopeful for the women—for Bhima, For Sera, and Maya?
  12. This novel was first published in 2006. Do you think it has aged well?

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