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?