Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Discuss the novel’s title. Who are The Hollows’s most fragile residents? Ultimately, who are the most resilient ones?
2. What makes Jones and Maggie a good couple? How would you have reacted to Jones’s revelations if you had been Maggie? What life lessons—for better or worse—do they impart to Rick?
3. What accounts for Travis’s hatred of women? What spurred the cycles of violence in the Crosby family?
4. How did your opinion of Marshall shift throughout the novel, from his session with Maggie in chapter three to the powerful closing scenes? What does it take to defeat the emotional grip of an abuser?
5. How does Elizabeth cope with the responsibilities she accumulated after shepherding students for most of her lifetime? What does she teach Maggie about motherhood?
6. In chapter nine, Lisa Unger describes the way Maggie, Melody, and Denise behaved in high school. Did they change very much over the years? Did high school predict your life accurately?
7. Is Melody a good mother? What attracted her to Graham? How did the truth compare to your theories about him?
8. Facebook plays a role in the race to rescue Charlene, but was it a healthy resource for her friends? Does it enhance or distort reality?
9. In his pivotal phone call to Maggie, Marshall asks, “How do you know if you’re a good person?” How would you have answered this question?
10. How does The Hollows reflect the personalities of the people who live there? What makes it a charming place to live? How does the landscape, rugged yet scenic, make it a place where secrets can exist in plain sight? How does its proximity to New York City affect the characters’ dreams?
11. Through Wanda, Charlie finally finds the courage to believe in himself. What enables him to accept Wanda’s love? How does his story reflect the way the novel unfolds?
12. Who is ultimately responsible for what happened to Sarah? Could anything or anyone have prevented the circumstances that led to her death?
13. Would Tommy Delano have received better treatment in the twenty-first century?
14. Do you think of your family, or your community, as being open and candid, or do they have a lot to hide? Discuss a time when you discovered something potentially damaging about a loved one’s past. How did you handle it? Has your own past ever haunted you?
15. Discuss Fragile’s connections to the other Unger novels you have read. How do her characters approach the line between good and evil?