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Map of Ireland

Map of Ireland

A Novel

  • reading group guide
In 1974, when Ann Ahern begins her junior year of high school, South Boston is in crisis -- Catholic mothers are blockading buses to keep Black children from the public schools, and teenagers are raising havoc in the streets. Ann, an outsider in her own Irish-American community, is infatuated with her beautiful French teacher, Mademoiselle Eugénie, who hails from Paris but is of African descent. Spurred by her adoration for Eugénie, Ann embarks on a journey that leads her beyond South Boston, through the fringes of the Black Power movement, toward love, and ultimately to the truth about herself.

In this ambitious and arresting novel, Stephanie Grant's searing prose, powerful storytelling, and richly drawn characters bring tumultuous moment in American history into perfect focus.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 208 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416565925 | 
  • March 2008
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Reading Group Guide

Map of Ireland
Stephanie Grant

Questions and Topics for Discussion

  1. Map of Ireland opens with an epigraph by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus: “Geography is fate.” How does this apply to Ann Ahern? Is she able to escape her geography or her fate in the novel?
  2. Ann says, “If I was a certain kind of person, I’d blame my troubles on the desegregation itself. I’d blame my being stuck here on those stupid yellow buses and the violence they seemed to bring” (4). Which characters in Map of Ireland would blame their troubles on desegregation? Do you think Ann takes personal responsibility for her crime? Why or why not?
  3. Consider Ann’s family situation. What kind of example does each parent set for Ann? Who, if anyone, in Ann’s life serves as a positive role model?
  4. Ann rants silently, “The sixties are over… you missed it, don’t you realize?” (42) How does the year 1974 influence Ann’s attitude? What about Rochelle’s? If the revolutionary energy of the 1960s continued into the 1970s, when did the 60s really end? Is there a particular moment in American history that signals or represents that end to you?
  5. Ann explains to Mademoiselle Eugenie, “‘They say I have a face like the map of Ireland…. You can tell where I’m from just by looking at my face’” (60). Why do you suppose Gr
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About the Author

Stephanie Grant
Photo Credit:

Stephanie Grant

Stephanie Grant is an award-winning writer whose first novel, The
Passion of Alice
, was longlisted for Britain's Orange Broadband Prize for
Fiction and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian
Fiction. She has taught creative writing at Ohio State University and Mount
Holyoke College and is currently visiting writer at the Franklin Humanities
Institute at Duke University.

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