Touchstone Reading Group Guide Those Pearly Gates
By Julie Cannon
1. Imo has raised two adopted girls, one of whom is actually her niece. In Those Pearly Gates
she is remarried to her late best friend's husband. Jeanette and her husband are raising Jeanette's child by another man. Lemuel, as a Reverend, is often placed in the role of Father to an entire congregation. Discuss the ways in which ³family² can be defined, and how growing up in various family structures might affect a child both positively and negatively.
2. When Lemuel starts to show signs of slowing down, Imo's immediate reaction is to push him to retire. Do you think Imo is doing the right thing? Do you think she is overreacting? How much influence do you think her own weariness of being a reverend's wife has on her treatment of Lemuel?
3. Despite their ever-widening family circle, the heart of Julie Cannon's Homegrown
series is Imo, Lou, and Jeanette. Compare and contrast these three women and the roles they play in Those Pearly Gates.
4. Early in the novel, Imo wonders if her great love for her garden is idolatry. Later, she describes the human need to be close to God's earth, and the way her farm has provided that connection for her and her family. Have you ever loved a hobby or object so much that it clouded your judgment or mixed up your priorities? Why do you think hobbies are such a popular pastime in America?
5. What does Imo