Book club questions for Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy takes a deep dive into this novel about loss and regret. There will be spoilers so for more context about the story, check out my spoiler-free review first.
I thought this novel was so well done but it’s devastating in many ways. Once I finished the novel, I just kept thinking about it. From Frannie’s isolation to the reveals of her past to the horrifying aspect of animals becoming extinct, there’s so much to unpack with Migrations.
I’m quite curious to check out her latest novel, Once There Were Wolves (which we got a small hint of it in Migrations). If you’ve read both, let me know your thoughts! Thank you to the book club who reached out to me about questions for Migrations—hope you all enjoy!
Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever further from shore and safety. But as Franny’s history begins to unspool—a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime—it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. When Franny’s dark secrets catch up with her, how much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption?
Epic and intimate, heartbreaking and galvanizing, Charlotte McConaghy’s Migrations is an ode to a disappearing world and a breathtaking page-turner about the possibility of hope against all odds.
Book Club Questions for Migrations
- Let’s first discuss the book’s title. Do you feel there is a deeper meaning to it?
- Why was Franny so determined to get on the fishing boat?
- When did you first realize that the novel did not take place in the present time? In your opinion, how far in the future is this novel set?
- This future is scary and shows the huge impact of climate change on the animals and nature. What message do you think the author was trying to send?
- Why did Ennis allow Franny to join the crew? When do you think he suspected that she wasn’t completely honest with them? In what ways are they similar?
- Franny always leaves. What is behind this behavior of hers?
- The novel is suspenseful in many ways with giving us hints and glimpses of Franny’s past. Did you think she was a violent person based on what was presented? Did that change as the book went on?
- What were your overall thoughts on the setting on the Saghani and the other crew mates?
- We eventually get to why Franny was in jail and what happened that night—she crashed into another car, which killed Niall and other driver. Let’s talk about our thoughts as we read this section.
- Franny’s true reason for wanting to find the Arctic terns was not about research but rather so she could spread Niall’s ashes. She then planned to commit suicide. What made her change her mind and choose to live?
- Let’s now talk about the ending and the fact her estranged father is the one who picked her up from jail. Why was it him and what happens next for Franny?
- Claire Foy will play the role of Franny in the film adaption, what do you think of this casting?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for Migrations! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
It’s a lengthy story but it’s so well done. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr is another novel that will stuck with you for a long time.
Set in Constantinople in the fifteenth century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Anthony Doerr’s gorgeous third novel is a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril, who find resilience, hope—and a book. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Doerr has created a magnificent tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us, and with those who will be here after we’re gone.
Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.
Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult continues to bring about much discussion (I get messages about this one weekly).
Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.
Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients.
But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.
After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways—the first known map of the afterlife.
As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices . . . or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?