1. Annie lives in a very large Catholic family, with many different characters. Who is your favorite character and why?
2. Can you name all the children in the family and give one detail about each child?
3. The novel is split into two parts: Part I June, 1963 after the Pope dies and Part II – the last six months of 1963 (July – Dec 31st)
- What was Annie’s central struggle in Part I?
- What was her principal challenge as the book progressed?
4. If an American had been elected Pope at that time, do you think it would have changed the direction of the Catholic Church?
5. The Civil Rights revolution really got going with Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and the march on Washington. Were there other events that took place in the last six months of 1963 that were a part of this social movement?
6. How aware did Annie’s family seem of these events and what was their special filter, their interpretation of these events?
7. Did the political and social events of 1963 have any effect on Annie’s perception of her world?
8. Although Annie didn’t know it, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan was written in 1960. In spite of this book being credited with bringing in the Women’s Movement of The Sixties, women who became pregnant ‘out of wedlock’ were sent to convents and homes for unwed mothers well into the mid- and late seventies, and forced to give up their babies. Discuss why this happened, despite all the new awareness around women’s needs.
9. Annie’s parents were a part of the post-war Baby Boom. Based on your knowledge of Catholicism, and combined with your experience of Annie’s Mother and Father in this novel, do you feel it was a conscious decision on the part of Annie’s parents to have brought so many children into the world? If so, can you articulate that thinking?
10. What is the Theory of Expanded Love?
11. Do you think Annie’s parents had “favorites”? If so, who would they be? If not, how does it manifest in Annie’s version of life as she narrates this story?
11. What can you articulate about the challenges Annie’s mother and father had as parents of so many children, born so close together?
12. Discuss the differences in consciousness vis a vis parenting (spanking, disciplining etc) between Annie’s parents and parents of today.
13. Discuss the differences in consciousness vis a vis sexual abuse between Annie’s family and society/families/survivors of today.
12. Do you think Annie’s Theory of Expanded Love changes over the course of the novel? If so, how?
14. In terms of loyalty, truth and integrity, what lessons do you think Annie has learned in this pivotal year of her life?