Discussion Questions: Are You My Mother?
There are many different themes woven throughout the book, which should lead to lots of good discussion. Here are some potential questions to get you started!
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- Has anyone from your past ever contacted you with unexpected, life-changing news? Or have you ever been the one to contact someone? How was your life changed by this experience?
- Sol’s experience of nontraditional adoption is reflected in many cultures. In your culture, how is adoption viewed and experienced? Do you have a personal experience of adoption, and if so, how does it compare with Sol’s?
- What do you think about Sol’s dating experiences? What experiences have you had with online dating? If you’re not a single person, has this book changed your understanding of single people at all?
- Considering the marriages in the novel, choose one couple that you found most interesting, and describe how the marital dynamics showed up in the overall story line.
- The novel explores some of the issues surrounding organ donorship. What do you think would be the most pressing concern for you if you were to consider donating an organ? Are you registered as an organ donor? Why or why not?
- How do you think you would feel if you found out you were a different ethnicity? Would it make a difference which ethnicity? Have you ever/would you ever take a DNA test? How do you think Sol handled it?
- What do you think about the representations of black and white characters in the book?
- Describe the role that forgiveness played in this novel. How does it compare to the role that forgiveness plays in society? In your family of origin? Your own life?
- We get to read Sol’s journal as we go through the story. How does that affect your experience as a reader? Describe any ways that you use journaling personally and what it means to you.
- What do you think about the role of faith in Sol’s story? How do you think the story line would have been different without it?
- Describe some of the ideas of family as seen through the eyes of different characters. What, if anything, surprised you about the family relationships in this book?
- What does family mean to you? How does biology affect our willingness to make sacrifices for others?
- What do you think about Janice’s decision to ask Patrick and Patty to raise Sol?
- What character do you most relate to or like? Why?
- How would you characterize the relationships between Willow, Dove, and Sol? Did you find their responses to be believable throughout the story? Describe what you think your response may have been as a sibling in that situation.
- How did the particular settings of Baltimore and Boston affect the story? How might the story have been different if set in another US city, or another region, such as the Deep South or the Midwest?
- Are there any other themes that stand out to you?