Meant to Be Teacher’s Guide

By Rita Coburn Whack

Meant to Be by Rita Coburn Whack


Reading Group Guide
The questions and discussion topics that follow are intended to enhance your group’s reading of Rita Coburn Whack’s Meant to Be. We hope they will provide new insights and ways of looking at this spiritual coming-of-age tale.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Jan doesn’t learn the secret about her parents’ marriage until she is almost twenty-three years old. Why do you think Jessie and Charles never explained the situation to their daughter earlier? Did Jessie and Charles make the right decision to stay together for so many years? Would you stay in a loveless marriage?

2. When Jan first mentions Don, Sarah warns her that Don may have other women. Why doesn’t Jan heed Sarah’s warning and stay away? After Jan learns that Don does live with another woman, why does she decide to continue seeing him? Would you ever agree to be the “other woman” in a similar situation?

3. The night that Jan cooks dinner for Don, he tells her all about his childhood. Why does Don open up to Jan? Do you think that Don was falling in love with Jan? Is it possible for a person to feel romantic love for more than one person at a time?

4. Sarah sees that Jan’s relationship with Don is going nowhere. Should she have acted more aggressively to get Jan out of the relationship? Or would she be a better friend if she had minded her own business and let Jan figure things out for herself? If you were in Jan’s situation, would you want your friends to get involved?

5. Charles always tells Jan that his mother was pure evil, but when Hannah speaks, she explains that she was just strict; she says that she loved her children very much. Did Charles misinterpret his mother’s strictness for evil? Was Charles angry with his mother throughout his adult life for her dying so young? Can a young boy ever get over the death of his mother?

6. For years, Ada has welcomed Jan into her home and treated her as her own child. Do you think that Jessie is jealous of the relationship that Jan has with Ada? Does Ada overstep her boundaries as aunt? Why do you think that Ada feels such a strong bond with Jan?

7. Jan begins to see Phillip only a few days after officially leaving Don. Is Jan ready to start a new relationship so soon? Does Jan apply the lessons that she learned from seeing Don to her relationship with Phillip? Do you think that Phillip is the faceless man that Jan kept seeing in her dream?

8. When Sarah finds out that Jonathan might want to live with his father, she’s devastated at the thought of losing her son. Would Sarah lose her son if he lived full-time with his father? Should a child be able to choose which parent to live with once he or she is thirteen years old? Given the choice, do you think it is better for a boy to grow up with his father-or with his mother?

9. Toward the end of the novel, Jan tells Sarah that she’s not sure if she loves her mother. Do you think that this is true? Is there a time when Jan did love her mother? With their newfound closeness, will Jan grow to love her mother? Do all mothers and daughters have an inherent bond?

10. Throughout Meant to Be, Jan receives guidance from several strong women. How would Jan have fared if she hadn’t had these guides? Is it possible for a young girl to grow up to become a strong woman without female guidance? Do you think that ancestors can offer spiritual help from beyond the grave?

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