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To See the Moon Again Reader’s Guide

By Jamie Langston Turner

To See the Moon Again by Jamie Langston Turner

READERS GUIDE

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. INTRODUCTION
Every day of her life Julia Rich lives with the memory of a horrible accident she caused long ago. In the years since, she has tried to hide her guilt in the quiet routine of teaching at a small South Carolina college, avoiding close relationships with family and would-be friends. But one day a phone call from Carmen, a niece she has never met, disrupts her carefully controlled world.??Carmen is a study in contrasts—comical yet wise, sunny yet contemplative, soft yet assertive. As she sets about gently drawing Julia from her self-imposed solitude into a place of hope, she also seeks her own peace for past mistakes.??Together, the two women embark on a journey that takes Julia far from the familiar comfort of home and gives Carmen the courage to open her heart. Together, their sightseeing trip turns into a discovery of truth, grace, redemption, and, finally, love.


ABOUT JAMIE L TURNER
Jamie Langston Turner is the award-winning author of seven novels and has been a teacher for more than forty years. She is currently a professor of poetry and creative writing at Bob Jones University. Jamie lives in Greenville, South Carolina, with her husband.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Describe Julia Rich at the beginning of the novel. Is she a likable woman? Would you like to have her as a teacher, a wife, a friend, or a sister? Why or why not?

  2. Julia dreads her sabbatical time. If you had a year off, what would you do? How would you fill your days? Discuss the things you would want to accomplish and the people you’d want to see.

  3. Why is Julia so fearful about Carmen’s arrival? What do you think makes her change her mind and let the girl stay with her?

  4. In what ways are Carmen and Julia alike? In what ways are they different? Do you think they are more similar than not? Discuss their thoughts on children, their attitude toward religion, their hobbies, habits, and childhoods.

  5. Carmen frequently quotes Bible verses while talking to Julia, often to reinforce her point, and it is clear she has a strong faith in God. What is the role of religion in the story, and in the relationship between Carmen and her aunt?

  6. Julia says, “Many years ago, she had read a description of guilt that had stuck with her, the gist of it being that guilt is an irresistible thing humans latch onto and carry around like precious cargo.” How do the characters in this book carry around their guilt? What moral compasses do Julia, Carmen, and Luna use to determine what makes a mistake a crime, or an act of love a sin? How do they justify or reconcile their guilt in their daily lives? Do you believe one of them deserves to suffer more than the others for her actions?

  7. Discuss the importance of the many catastrophic events of Julia’s life: her traumatic relationship with her father, Jeremiah’s disappearance, the fight with her mother, the accident, the plagiarism of Jeremiah’s story, and Matthew’s death. Which one of those things do you think had the biggest effect on her, and why?

  8. How do you think Julia’s life would have been different if she hadn’t had the accident in her parents’ driveway that killed a little boy? Would she have let herself have kids? Would she have married Matthew? Would she have reconciled with her family?

  9. When trying to convince Carmen that she needs to find out if her baby lived, Julia says, “Sometimes the same thing can bring good and evil.” How is this statement relevant not only to Carmen’s situation, but also to other situations the characters have encountered? Consider Julia’s accident, Jeremiah’s death, and any other events that had both a good and bad effect on the characters’ lives.
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  11. Carmen always manages to see the positive in a situation, and is confident in God’s plan for her life. After Luna confesses to taking Lizzy as her own grandchild, Carmen reacts by marveling at how God orchestrated that plan so she could find out the truth about her child. Were you surprised at Carmen’s reaction? What would you have done in her situation? Does Carmen’s interpretation of Luna’s actions as ‘a deep mercy’ seem frustratingly naive to you, or is it something to be admired?

  12. As an English professor, Julia frequently analyzes situations or conversations as they relate to creative writing, or the stories and essays her students might write. Why do you think the author refers so often to literature and writing technique? Do her references affect the way you read certain passages in the book?

  13. Forgiveness—particularly the ability to forgive oneself—is a big theme in this novel. Why is it often easier to forgive others than yourself? Do you think Carmen and Julia were finally able to forgive themselves? How did Julia’s views on forgiveness change throughout the book, if at all?

  14. Julia believes she “forfeited her right to have children” when she had the accident, and doesn’t believe she would have been a good mother. After seeing her develop a relationship with Carmen, do you agree or disagree with her assessment? Why?

  15. How has Julia changed by the end of the book? How are her attitudes, relationships, and feelings different than before she met Carmen? In what ways do you think she will be a different kind of teacher when she returns to the classroom in the fall?

  16. Julia’s relationship with her husband was not warm and open. Whose fault was that? What were their reasons for marrying each other? Have you ever known anyone in real life who learned to appreciate someone only after that person died?

  17. Another theme in the book deals with “letting go.” Do you think it’s fair to say that women tend to hang onto their children more than men? Why or why not? How can parental possessiveness damage both the child and the parent? Besides Carmen, what else does Julia let go of?

 
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