The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is an engaging tale about five women and their journey through the mountains of Kentucky. The following book club questions for The Giver of Stars will have spoilers.
Editorial note: before your book club meets, definitely check out this Buzzfeed article: “Me Before You” Author Jojo Moyes Has Been Accused Of Publishing A Novel With “Alarming Similarities” To Another Author’s Book. I wrote about my thoughts about the situation in my review and will update it if more information comes out.
Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.
The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.
What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.
Book Club Questions for The Giver of Stars
- Let’s talk about why Alice married Bennett. What kind of life did she expect in America? And how did it compare to her reality?
- Life in rural Kentucky in the ’30s was definitely not for the faint of heart. How do you think you would have handled it if you were Alice? Would you have stayed or gone back to England?
- Did you know anything about the real life Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky prior to reading this novel?
- Why did Alice decide to join these librarians on their quest? Let’s talk about why it was so important for these librarians to share literacy with rural residents.
- Let’s talk about Margery! She’s tough as nails but definitely has a soft spot for the other librarians, especially for Alice. Let’s talk about how her background shaped who she became. Why was she so resistant on marrying Sven? How did she change from the beginning of the story and to the end?
- In the 1930s there was a power imbalance between men and women—with men viewing women as beneath them. Let’s talk about how the main characters all eventually rose above that and proved the men wrong.
- This is a lengthy novel so there’s plenty that goes on. What did you think about Margery’s war with Van Cleve and the subplot about the mines and the slurry dam? Were you engaged with that storyline? Why or why not?
- Let’s talk about Alice’s slow burn romance with Fred.
- Margery goes to jail for the murder of Clem McCullough. Were you surprised his daughter ended up helping Margery to get out of jail?
- What did you think about the ending for all the characters? Let’s talk about why rural Kentucky was the right place all along for Alice.
- What are the key themes and takeaways from this novel?
- Have you read any other novels by Jojo Moyes? How does this one compared to her other ones?
- Okay, time to discuss the Buzzfeed article. What are your thoughts about it? Did you read the sections of The Giver of Stars and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek? Did reading the Buzzfeed article change your opinion of The Giver of Stars in any way? Are you going to read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek?
What to read next
Epic stories always make for engaging and thought-provoking reads. If you enjoyed book club questions for The Giver of Stars, here are some more reading suggestions along with links to discussion questions.
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Where the Crawdads Sing is part murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature—all taking place in the south.
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah is a gripping story about survival and human resilience. The story is about a family that moves to Alaska in 1974.
The father, Ernt Allbright, is a former POW that comes home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. He makes the impulsive decision to move his family to Alaska where they will live off the grid in America’s last frontier. The mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for Ernt, even if it means following him into the unknown. Their thirteen-year-old daughter Leni is caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate and stormy relationship. But she hopes that the new land will lead to a better future for her family.
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture.