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1. How do Del’s block quotes impact the narrative in the beginning? end?
2. What were your first impressions of Alicia, the granddaughter? Were they positive or negative? How did your impressions change through time, if at all?
3. How does Depression-era Philadelphia shape Del’s character? In what ways did his community and upbringing shape his experience in the war?
4. What does the braided structure of two protagonists in different time periods afford the narrative that would not otherwise be available if told chronologically? Does the weaving in and out of time/place/narrator feel cohesive? Are there places where it is less or more satisfying? What pattern did you notice to the braiding?
5. The book explores the idea of friendly-fire being “hushed up.” Do you believe this to be true? If so, do you think it still happens today? Either way, what is Del trying to tell the reader?
6. How is Alicia’s bond with her father different than her grandfather? Why does the author not offer more insight into her upbringing? What is so ironic about her father’s connection that she cannot escape?
7. The book offers extensive research on the war in brief summaries and layman’s terms. How did this influence your reading of the book as a whole? How does the language impact your understanding of war?
8. The writer is careful not to portray her grandfather as a traditional war hero archetype. How is this accomplished?
9. Did Alicia break the promise to her grandfather regarding the camps? Did she really?
10. Juxtapose Del’s relationship with Rose/Joan/Linda. What are you thoughts on Del’s romantic life and choices? How does his experience impact Alicia, if at all?
11. How is Del’s relationship with his siblings similar to Alicia’s? How do the group of children parallel, perhaps ironically? What other relationships offer a similar parallel throughout the book?
12. How does Alicia evolve throughout her journey? What character traits stay the same? What events in her life were most transformative?
13. Does Del change after the war — or do you agree with Clem?
14. How does the Nazi diary finding and inheritance give the reader a book detour? How does the diary impact the braided structure? How does the diary and related character experiences impact theme?
15. What is the climax of the narrative? What did you believe was going to happen versus what happened? How does the climax impact the theme?
16. As a travel narrative, the book explores sites and landscapes to afford the reader a taste of environment, culture, and context. Which city Alicia visits would you like to travel to and why?
17. Who is your favorite minor character and why?
18. What did you learn about the Italian American community that you did not know before?
19. What did you think of the ending?
20. Review the family images at the back of the book — there are also some on the author’s Instagram. What characters look exactly as you imagined? Which image struck you the most?
21. What is the significance of the book title? Explain the symbolism found on the book cover.
22. Do you have a written history of your family? Has anyone in your family been involved in a historical event? In what way does your family’s past shape the present?
23. What single plot event or imagery stands out as one you will remember in the future?
24. What about this book is important for future generations? How might you use this book as a tool?
25. Do you believe in Luck or do you agree with Del?