This reading group guide for The Translation of the Bones includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. The novel has an impressive cast of characters who see the world in very different ways and yet Kay treats each of them with real compassion. Which characters were most difficult for you to sympathize with and why?
2. What is the significance of the title? Technically speaking, to translate bones is to move holy relics from one resting place to another. What significance do you think the title has in relation to the book?
3. Kay writes beautifully about the ways in which people connect—be it within a family or through the church or a neighborhood—and writes with particular passion about the bond between mothers and their children. What might it be about that relationship, and the different forms it takes, that was so compelling to the author? How did that come across?
4. Late in the novel, Kay evokes Luke 23:29: “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bear, and the breasts that never gave suck. For if the end of loving is sorrow beyond bearing, is it not better from the first to forsw