House of Cleaving Discussion

15 Discussion Suggestions for Book Clubs and Reader’s Groups

1. In the beginning of House of Cleaving we get a glimpse into Annie’s past via “the walk of shame.” How do you think Annie’s life would have been different if she had married Ethan’s father?

2. Annie’s memories of Ethan’s death cloud her life. Do you think it’s ever possible for anyone, including Annie, to move on after losing a young child?

3. When Annie leaves Veda’s house she thinks to herself that “maybe crazy Aunt Veda isn’t so crazy after all.” Discuss what you think she was referring to.

4. When Annie first visits Asher at the Sunshine Family of Peace she is disgusted by the living conditions and refuses to believe that her mother could have ever stayed there. Why do you think she reacts this way?

5. Do you think Cleda’s potions really worked on her victims?

6. What do you think Annie’s life would have been like growing up if Dutch and Dorie had taken her to raise?

7. What do you think would have happened to Roslyn and her children if a pregnant Millie hadn’t come to stay with them all those years ago?

8. Is Jaygar just pure evil or is he a victim of circumstances beyond his control? How did Jay Junior turn out so normal?

9. What affected you the most regarding the story of Lucy and Clive? Did Rubin have a reasonable argument for not signing Annie’s deed?

10. What do you think Annie and Millie’s life would have been like if Buck had left Elizabeth and married Millie? Do you think Buck was selfish – wanting his cake and eating it, too?

11. That day in the sheriff’s office when Millie was attacked became a major turning point in her life. Without this pivotal moment do you think she and Buck would have eventually ended up together?

12. What would you have done in Annie’s circumstances? The alternative that wasn’t addressed in the book was just walking away from the old Cleaving house and letting it rot? Could you have done that?

13. Do you think Annie and David will see each other again?

14. Do you think Annie and Mary will become closer friends?

15. Everyone has at least one of these characters on some branch of their family tree. Share at least one person with your reading group who is like a character from House of Cleaving.

Do you have a question to suggest to reader’s groups and book clubs? Send it to

A Note to Readers

Just a Short Hiatus ... More Novels to Come

While Growing Up Wilder was my last novel, it will certainly not be my final. I have two outlines just dying to escape from my desk drawer and I often have to apologetically shove them back in when I find they have made it to the surface time and again.

I am currently working toward completing my doctorate degree (I am all but dissertation, folks!) and I am tangled up in research that uses storytelling and social media as a way to increase hope levels for individuals and entire communities.

This research is allowing me to focus on solving a problem within Kentucky's Appalachia - negative stereotypes.

Readers, please be patient. I will return to fiction shortly. Until then, please continue to share Sister Blackberry, House of Cleaving and Growing Up Wilder with your friends and family.

As always, I welcome your notes and messages.