Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. How does the setting of California shape Stop That Girl? How might the novel be different if it were set in another region?
2. Discuss the social backdrop to these stories. How does the culture of the sixties and seventies help shape Ann’s identity?
3. In the first chapter, Ann takes off running with her baby sister. What provokes her to do this? Do you understand her motives in this instant?
4. Explore Dr. Frost’s effect on Ann and her family. How does Ann’s mother’s relationship with Dr. Frost compare to Ann’s relationship with her grandmother? What do you think Dr. Frost’s motives are in regards to her relationship to Ann? Is she merely eccentric, or do you think she has deeper psychological problems? Does Ann or her mother resemble Dr. Frost in any way?
5. Stop That Girl has the unusual format of consistently skipping time between chapters. How did this structure function as a way to explore the turning points in Ann’s life, and how did it affect your reading experience?
6. In “Life on Comet,” how does Ann view her mother’s depression? How does Ann’s perception of her mother change in “We Know Where We Are, But Not Why” when her family is in Arizona?
7. Many reviewers have called Ann Ransom a surprising and original character. How does she differ from other female characters you’ve encountered in contemporary fiction?
8. At the end of “Look Out, Kids,” Ann says, “It all could have been so much different.” What does Ann wish were different? In the broadest sense, why wasn’t it?
9. What messages about family does Stop That Girl send? How does McKenzie define the variables of family?
10. How does McKenzie use humor to express Ann’s worldview?
11. In “S.O.S.,” Ann describes her attraction to her boyfriend, Bart, as originating when she realized “He didn’t like anybody, felt superior, and coming from where I did I was used to this kind of person. One thing led to another” (154). What does she mean with this statement?
12. Roy is one of the few loyal men in Stop That Girl. Why is he so dedicated to Ann’s mother and his family? How would you characterize the other male characters that appear throughout the narrative?
13. Ann finds herself in an uncomfortable situation with her employer in “The Possible World.” Beyond the immediate circumstances, what do you think brought her to this low point?
14. How and where does the theme of being “last of the tribe” surface in this narrative?
15. Throughout the novel, Ann and her family constantly move. Why can’t Ann’s mother settle in one place? What effect does this upheaval have on the rest of the family?
16. How would you compare Ann’s personality at the end of the novel to her character at age seven? Which elements of her personality have changed, and which have essentially remained the same?
17. What are your predictions for Ann’s future? How do you think she’ll live her life?