by Kathleen Wade

Thoughts for Reflection and Discussion

1. Did anything surprise you about the novitiate life Maggie discovered once she arrived? Why do you think Maggie wasn’t more curious or questioning before she entered? What do you think attracted Maggie to this life? Why did she want to become a nun?

2. What about the convent environment kept Maggie and/or other novices from being more rebellious? What are hints to indicate Maggie and her friends might rebel? Where in the story did you feel yourself wishing she would rebel...even leave?

3. For years Maggie was convinced Stan was “the one.” Even in the convent she continued to feel love for him. What made Maggie lose interest in Stan? Did you agree with her change of heart?

4. Is it believable that even though Will appears multiple times in Maggie’s early years she doesn’t recognize him? Why or why not?

5. Jack tries to awaken Maggie’s social consciousness. What events are most influential in waking her up socially? When in the novel did you notice this?

6. Which, if any, of Maggie’s actions or choices suggest she is a risk-taker?

7. How do the 1960s shape or influence the book? Which characters seem most affected by social change? It’s been 50 years since 1968. Do you see similarities in current social, political, religious struggles today?

8. How would you describe Maggie’s relationship with her siblings? Her parents? What are some pivotal moments of change or growth for her?

9. In what ways are the changes following Vatican II reflected throughout the novel – in convent life, in the church, in the lives of various characters?

10. Did you have a favorite character? Talk about who and why. Just for fun: Which actors would you cast for some of the major character roles in the book?

11. What do you still want to know about the characters, their choices, or the unfolding story? What do you think the next year will be like for Maggie? Will? Stan? Maggie’s best friends?

12. No one is perfect. What do you think the title refers to? What are Maggie’s imperfections or character flaws? Is she aware of them?

13. What do you think were the major reasons Maggie decided to ask for a leave (exclaustration)? Was there a moment in the book when you thought it was inevitable? What did she do to avoid this decision? Did you agree with her?

14. Which of Maggie’s mother superiors are you sympathetic with and why?

15. What, if anything, in the book made you angry? What made you stand up and cheer? Talk about anything in your own upbringing or life experience that helps you identify with Maggie’s struggles.

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