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About Grace

A Novel
By Anthony Doerr

Reading Group Guide

    Reader's Group Guide for About Grace
    1) The novel is rich with description and symbolism. The symbolism of water is present throughout the story ranging from floods, snowflakes, lakes and oceans to the nature of Winkler's profession. Discuss this symbol in the novel as a whole.
    2) Discuss the nature of Sandy and Winkler's relationship. Sandy's point of view is not known to the reader. What do you think motivates her? Why do you think she avoids discussing Winkler's premonitions and sleepwalking?
    3) Discuss Winkler's character. What do you think of the choices he made? What were the most important events of his childhood? How did the relationship with his parents along with his earliest premonition shape his character? What is your overall opinion of Winkler?
    4) How do the lives of Felix and Soma compare to Winkler's? Why do you think Winkler becomes so attached to the family and, in particular, Naaliyah? What do you think prompts Winkler to return to Ohio after almost two decades on St. Vincent's? Why do you think he stayed so long?
    5) While Winkler visits the first Grace Winkler, her son Jed "predicts" certain things about Winkler's journey. Where does Winkler's journey lead him? Was Jed's prediction accurate?
    6) Winkler describes his journey at one point as "Another kind of purgatory: a waiting to wake up." What does this mean? How is the notion of purgatory explored throughout Winkler's story?
    7) Discuss Naaliyah's character. What is the nature of her relationship with Winkler? What aspects of her personality are revealed during her time at "Camp Nowhere"?
    8) What is the significance of the winter spent at "Camp Nowhere"? How does Winkler change during this time? What is the importance of the snowflakes he works to collect?
    9) Herman Sheeler figures prominently later in the story. Describe his personality. Why do you think he makes the decision to befriend and help Winkler?
    10) Describe the relationship between Grace and Winkler. How does she ultimately come to accept Winkler in her life?
    11) The story takes place in a variety of richly described locations. What are some of the most memorable? What aspects of these locations help or hinder Winkler through his turmoil? How do you think these various environments help to tell the story?
    12) Do you think Winkler's story reached a resolution? In the final chapter of the book, Winkler dreams. Explain the symbolism of this final dream.

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