1. Maggie tells Leona that “Loneliness is a choice.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
2. Leona considers how Forever friends are sometimes closer than kinfolk. What are some essential qualities to have in a friend who sticks closer than a brother? (Proverbs 18:24)
3. It is unusual for an Amish family to relocate cross-country to an established community like those in Lancaster County. What are some challenges the Gingeriches face when they settle in Colerain?
4. Have you ever wished you could be part of a different family? What makes a family appealing?
5. Gloria departs with her family even though it means leaving her serious beau and best friend behind. Why does she do so, and would you agree to do the same thing in her situation? Discuss.
6. Were you surprised by Leona’s willingness to travel such a long distance to see Gloria after more than three years apart? Why or why not? Would you be willing to do the same thing, or might you be more hesitant?
7. Why do you think Tom is reluctant to say too much even to Leona about his father’s past dealings with Arkansas Joe? Do you admire this about him, or do you think he should be more open with her?
8. Gloria is at a crossroads in her life where she needs to decide which beliefs she wants to embrace as her own. Have you found yourself at a similar crossroads? If so, whom did you turn to for help in making your decision?
9. Gloria admits that she feels “partially to blame” for her father’s bad debts. Why do you think this is? Have you ever felt responsible for something one of your family members has done? If yes, what did you do about it?
10. Millie remarks that “Once the fancy grabs ya, it seldom lets go.” True as that may be for many former Amish, what are some clues that Gloria might be ready to give up fancy life? What are some ways in which she struggles?
11. What do you think of the change in the relationship between Gloria and her father, or between Leona and her mother? What do these story threads tell us about child-parent relationships?
1. “Lucy had managed to free herself from the heartache. Either that or she’d shoved the pain away, where it couldn’t gnaw at her heart. Like I’ve tried to do . . .” Talk about how Lucy Flaud and her father, Christian, relate to the past. How does that change throughout the course of the story?
2. Despite the fact that God doesn’t seem to answer, Lucy continues to pray for others. “Even if heaven’s silent . . . I won’t quit knockin’.” Have you ever experienced a time when God didn’t seem to hear your prayers? How did you handle that?
3. While Lucy’s parents and sister Martie are aware of the extent of her transgressions, Lucy’s twin sisters and Mammi Flaud are not. Why do you think this is the case? Do you agree with Lucy and her parents’ decision not to tell everyone in the family? Why or why not?
4. Like the Amish, Dale shares an appreciation for the simpler, more traditional ways of doing things. In what ways his approach to technology similar to theirs? In what ways is it different?
5. As frequently as Lucy volunteers, she doesn’t feel worthy of forgiveness. Why do you think some people become fixed on trying to earn forgiveness versus accepting the forgiveness God offers through Christ?
6. Discuss how Lucy reacts when Tobe asks if he might court her. Do you think she’s right to respond as she does? What would you do in her situation?
7. What are a few reasons a number of Amish in this story are considering a cross-country relocation? What are some unique challenges such a move presents to them versus Englishers? How might day-to-day Amish life vary based on where people live?
8. Lucy wonders now how she ever could have thought Travis was right for her. Have you ever made a decision that you look back on now with surprise, perhaps even regret? What’s something that you’ve learned from that experience?
9. Despite feeling inadequate to discuss faith with Wendell Keene, what are some ways Lucy is able to minister to people even in her spiritually broken state? What do you think this says about her? About God?
10. Clinton and Dorothea’s love story inspires Lucy. Do you see any parallels between their story and Lucy’s own? Discuss.
11. Sometimes we can be more receptive to what an outsider has to say than to the advice of anyone close to us. What are some things that Lucy learns about herself and about faith from Dale? Were you surprised at his role in the story?
1. Dawdi Tim has been an influence on Marlena since her earliest days. What are some ways in which his influence lives on? Have you had a similar influential figure in your life? If so, who?
2. Marlena sees caring for Angela Rose as an opportunity to make amends for her estranged relationship with Luella. Have you ever tried to make amends in a relationship? If so, how?
3. Small Jay longs to prove himself in the eyes of his father. Was there a time when you found it difficult to prove your ability or maturity to another person? Discuss.
4. For Marlena, distance ultimately lends perspective on both her relationship with Nat and her faith. Has there been an instance in your life when stepping away from your usual surroundings or routine has allowed you to see something more clearly? If so, what?
5. Small Jay and his family eventually take in Boston and care for him. How does their way of addressing Boston’s situation differ from how an “English” family might approach it, especially today?
6. Ellie notices that “Boston might be filling a place in Small Jay’s heart intended for a father.” What elements of their relationship contribute to that?
7. If you were in Marlena’s situation, would you be willing to put your own life on hold to care for a sibling’s child? Would that be easier or more difficult in your circumstances?
8. Besides the love letters from Abigail to Boston, what are some other “love letters” that play an important role in the book?
9. How might Marlena’s story have been different if Luella had remained Amish?
1. When little Sarah turns up missing, all sorts of possibilities flood Maryanna’s mind. Have you ever been unexpectedly separated from someone you love, even briefly? What went through your mind, and how did you react?
2. Maryanna’s neighbors respond quickly to her child’s disappearance. How do you think your own community would face such an event? In what ways would its response be different than that in Hickory Hollow? How would it be similar?
3. Jodi Winfield faces several challenges in caring for Sarah and finding out where she belongs. What would you do in her place?
4. Discuss the reasons Maryanna might have for being somewhat wary of an Englisher—even one who has rescued her lost daughter. Can you relate to any of her concerns?
5. Young Amish widows and widowers are expected to remarry if possible; this is especially true for those with children at home. How does Maryanna feel about this? How might you feel in her place?
6. Jodi fears bringing a child into this world because she can’t face the prospect of more loss. Can you relate at all to her concerns? What are some things that fear has kept you from pursuing?
7. Joshua Peachey was a close friend of Maryanna’s deceased husband, Benuel Esh. How does this affect their relationship at first? Later on?
8. When Jodi accepts the temporary teaching position, she needs to adjust what and how she teaches. Talk about some of the differences between Amish and English schools.
9. Jodi and Maryanna share a common bond of grief. What are some lessons they learn from each other?