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Wunderland Reader’s Guide

By Jennifer Cody Epstein

Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein


Reading Group Guide
1.     The various points of view in the novel give us insight into a character’s thinking and help us understand why they made certain decisions. Did any character make a decision that you felt was unforgiveable?
2.     Which character did you most relate to in the novel? Which character did you find the most difficult to understand?
3.     We first enter the story through Ava’s point of view as she reads Ilse’s letters for the first time. What is the benefit of using this structure? Why does the author choose to write in multiple time periods? Would the story have been different had it been written chronologically?
4.     Renate’s sense of identity is turned upside down at a pivotal point in her adolescence. What impact do you think this had on Renate’s life? Can you relate to her experience?
5.     As the novel progresses, we see Ilse remain silent as drastic changes take place in her city, many of which ultimately impact Renate. Why do you think Ilse doesn’t speak up?
6.     Despite butting heads at every turn, Ava and her mother are similar in many ways—they’re both headstrong, determined, and protective. What more do you think they have in common? Why is their relationship so strained?  
7.     Why do you think Ilse keeps so many secrets from Ava? Do you think Ava would have fared better had she known the truth from the start? Why or why not?
8.     Did you find Ilse to be a sympathetic character? When did you begin to understand her point of view, or when did you lose touch with her?
9.     Wunderland opens with an epigraph from Alice in Wonderland and Renate returns to this children’s story several times in the novel. What is the significance of this to the novel and to Renate in particular?
10.  Were you surprised by the ending? What did you think of Renate’s decisions in the last chapter?
11.  Ultimately, Ilse and Renate’s story is a fictionalized account of what truly happened to millions of people in Europe during WWII. What is the benefit of reading a fictionalized novel about this time period? How is it different from reading nonfiction about the same events?
12.  Do you feel that any of the themes explored in Wunderland are applicable in today’s world?
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