Reading Group Guide
The following list of questions about this book are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this novel. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach this book.
- After her death, Chika first appears to Albom the morning of his father’s funeral. Why do you think the author chose to use these “dialogues” to help tell the story?
- Why is it particularly difficult for Albom to write about Chika at first?
- Chika suggests to Albom that one can indeed forget a loved one. What might she mean? What kinds of things might cause the fading of such important memories and feelings?
- What are healthy ways to maintain powerful connections to lost loved ones? In what ways might such attachment become unhealthy?
- Consider the various allusions to stories (The House at Pooh Corner, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc.) throughout the book. What is so important about stories for children? What role should narrative play in a healthy adult life?
- What does Albom mean when he says that “hoarding time” is the most selfish of acts?
- What is the epiphany Albom has when watching the children sing and dance beneath sprays of water? How does this powerful experience change him?
- What does Albom mean when he admits that his “sense of control was obliterated” by Chika’s illness? Why was this valuable for him? What’s a healthy balance of control and acceptance in one’s life?
- What does Albom mean when he says that awful news is “literally a bend in your life”? Why is how you decide to frame and respond to such a challenge so important?
- How is Albom’s profound experience with Morrie Schwartz relevant to that with Chika?
- What might it mean that “you can have more than one journey of your life”?
- How is “a child…both an anchor and a set of wings”?
- Albom confesses to Chika that he was “a foolish man in many ways.” What does he mean? How does he explain his unwise behavior and decisions? How did Chika help change this?
- Albom explains that as adults, we “don’t really look,” but merely “look over…glance…[and then] move on.” What does he mean? Why might we so casually neglect such a powerful ability? How does Chika remind him to really look at things?
- What role does hope play on Albom’s journey with Chika? What does he mean when he says that hopelessness can be contagious?
- Upon a return to Haiti, Chika runs and twirls and dances with joy in a way that “proves she is home.” What defines home? In what ways can home be something other than a particular place?
- Consider the Haitian proverb, “Misfortune doesn’t have a horn.” What does it mean? How is it relevant to Chika’s story?
- What is the complex nature of the Albom’s role as parents to Chika? Beyond biology, what might establish a person as a parent?
- What is joy? How is it that Albom found joy in such profound loss? What are some ways to stay aware of joy in our daily experience?
- Do you agree with the Albom’s decision not to discuss Chika’s illness with her?
- What might explain Chika’s vibrant courage in the face of such challenges?
- What does Albom mean when he says, “What we carry defines who we are”?
- What is the nature of grief? How do the Albom’s respond to theirs? What are healthy, effective ways to endure such feelings of loss?
- Albom likens families to “pieces of art.” What does he mean? What are the essential elements of a powerful, loving family? How did Chika “make a family” for the Alboms?
- What is Chika’s legacy?