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The Matter of Grace
Jessica Barksdale Inclán

Discussion Questions

1. Motherhood is an important topic in this novel. How does Doris fail as a mother, despite her maternal drive to protect Grace? Discuss the ways in which she duplicates the same mistakes she made when Grace was a child. In what ways do the other women both succeed and fail as mothers?

2. Why are the friendships in this circle so important to Helen, Felice, and Stella? What qualities do they find in these relationships that sustain them as meaningfully as—and sometimes more meaningfully than—their marriages?

3. Grace is the one character who fails in her friendships. Why? How does she let the group down? And how is this similar to the way she lets Kathleen down?

4. Kathleen is initially a very unlikable figure. Did you find yourself becoming more sympathetic to her as you learned more about Grace's manipulations? Do you think Kathleen could have handled some things better or did she merely take what steps she could to protect her own well-being?

5. How do you feel about Helen's relationship with Pablo? Why does she have to turn away from Darryl in order to come back to him? Do you think she could have found the desire to try again without having this affair?


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