I run a book club. From time to time, I find it almost impossible to find good study guides/discussion questions for the books we are reading. So I thought I would share the study guides that I created myself and offer them for your use with your own book club. I do not mind if you use these, but would greatly appreciate feedback if you found them useful.
Discussion Questions for Reason To Breathe by: Rebecca Donovan
1. Let’s talk characters. Describe Emma. Did you like her? Who was your favorite character? What about Carol? Describe Carol and George. The author describes both Carol and George as “loving their children above all.” Why did they mistreat Emma?
2. According to the author, the ending was always the ending from the first night she began writing. Why did Emma not leave that last night, like she had planned? Why did she stay? What did you take away from the epilogue? (I believe what you take away from the ending says alot about you. Do you have hope?) What happened to Emma at the end? “In the balance of love and loss, it was love that made me struggle to…breathe.” The ending is about deciding between giving up and wanting to live. Which did she choose?
3. From the first day they met, Evan seems to get under Emma’s skin. Sara says Evan seems to have found a way to get to her. She even tells Emma to use Evan as an emotional punching bag as he seems to be able to handle the backlashes that Emma can’t seem to unleash on anyone else. Is Evan good for Emma? Or does he bring out the worst in her?
4. Emma tells Sara at the beginning of the book, “If I don’t tell you, then its like it never happened.” Compare that statement with what Emma realizes later in the book, after Evan came to Emma’s bedroom window to check on her and see if she was alright. “He’d seen a glimpse of my world and I didn’t like how it reflected back in his eyes.”
5. Is Emma’s excuse to not report the abuse a good one? Why or why not? Why is it so important to keep everything a secret?
6. To what extend do you think the people around Emma knew of Carol’s abuse? Evan? Sara? Sara’s parents? Carol’s mom? George? Evan thought George was hurting Emma. The school thought Evan was hurting Emma. Why was it so hard for anyone to figure it out?
7. Was Drew a good guy or a jerk?
8. Why does Emma say such a terrible thing to Sara? Is her offense forgiveable? Would you forgive Emma if you were Sara?
9. There are three different book covers for Reason To Breathe. Which one best suits the book?
10. Emma tells us that “just breathing would upset Carol, and there wasn’t anything I could do about that.” Carol tells Emma, “You don’t breathe unless I tell you you can.” Why does Carol hate Emma so much?
11. “My world was delicately balanced- but the scales never hung even. When something improved, something else had to crumble.” Discuss Emma’s sense of justice and forgiveness. Is Emma capable of loving someone else? Is she capable of receiving love?