Discussion Questions: SISTER SAINT, SISTER SINNER

 

Discussion Guide for Peg Herring's


Sister Saint, Sister Sinner

Author’s Note: To preserve the peace in your book group, you might want to agree before beginning that no specifics from real life will be allowed, no “Well, President X did this…” or “Party Y always does that...” We’re talking fiction here.

1.      At the beginning of the story, the sisters have been living separate lives. Now that you’ve finished the book, do you see any significance to their distance from each other?

2.      How do your views of the sisters change as the story unfolds?

3.      Nettie is a loner. Do you think she was always that way, or did circumstances kill her desire for companionship?

4.      Ruth has good ideas that you might have agreed with early in the story. If so, at what point did your views and hers begin to diverge?

5.      What do you see as Kim’s greatest weakness?

6.      To what extent do you believe each woman is in control of the events that befall her?

7.      Knowing what you now know, how would you defend Nettie’s murder of her son Caleb?

8.      What are some hints early in the story that Ruth longs to be important to the world?

9.      Croft is the evil voice in a strong leader’s ear. Do you hold him responsible for Ruth’s descent into dictatorship, or is she ultimately to blame?

10.   Everett Mero is a character we’re unsure of until the very end. What do you believe is the duty of men like Mero, who are sworn to protect the President and his family, if they become aware that things aren’t right in the White House?

11.   Is there a turning point for Ruth, a moment where she “goes wrong” and can no longer redeem herself?

12.   How do the deaths of Nathan Tanner and others like him signify the failure of the Unity Project? What other failures of the movement’s initial goals can you cite?

13.   Sister Saint, Sister Sinner does not set out to be political, but there are warnings in the way Ruth and Croft manipulate the system. List some actions they took (and got away with) that you found disturbing, since they are possible in most representative governments.

14.   The relationship between Kim and Drew seems like it was meant to be. What factors in Drew’s makeup contribute to Kim’s attraction to him?

15.   Caleb Green is a product of his background. Do you have any sympathy for him?

16.   The first time we see Harley Stark, Ruth has apparently ordered, in her sweet but insistent way, that he have a tattoo removed from his arm. Do you think this turned him against her, or is it simply another instance of her need for control?

17.   Dr. Foeller is a well-meaning professional, unaware that she’s helping Ruth hide the sister she’s ashamed of. Does she help Nettie at all, in your opinion?

18.   Olin Dobbs becomes for Nettie the son she might have had. Do you believe her support of Olin is a form of redemption for her?

19.   The book contains themes you might have noticed. Comment on one of these or come up with your own analysis.

Ruth wants less and less light in the room as she works toward her goals.

Nettie loves growing things.

Much of Nettie’s struggle to escape takes place underground.

Kim relies on outside forces (her husband, her boss, Ruth) for evidence that her life is “okay.”

20.   The creation of a new party seems to be a chance to unite the country and heal old wounds, but that doesn’t happen. What do you think the author is saying about government and citizenship?

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