1. Kate says that "understatement was the rule in our house.
Emotions, even positive ones, were kept firmly under control." How
would you say that this "rule" affected each member of the Morrison
family? How did it influence their relationships with each other
and with people outside their family? What are some examples?
2. For the first few weeks following the death of her parents,
Kate believes that she was "protected from the reality by
disbelief." How did she carry this defense mechanism with her
throughout her childhood and into adulthood? What are some
3. How do you imagine things would have turned out if the
children had been separated, as Aunt Annie had arranged? How do you
think it would have benefited and/or impeded their growth as
individuals and as a family?
4. Guilt is an ongoing theme throughout the book. How did this
feeling affect the children's relationships and the choices they
made immediately following the death of their parents? How did it
affect their adult lives? Who would you say was most stricken with
5. Why do you suppose Kate and Matt were bonded together so
strongly? What about Bo and Luke?
6. When you think of a conventional family, stereotypical images
come to mind. How does each of the four Morrison children fit in
that image? Which child took on which traditional family role? What
are some examples?
7. Given the chance to attend university, what choices do you
think Matt would have made? Do you think he would have returned to
Crow Lake? Why or why not?
8. Matt sees problems clearly and is realistic about solving
them, whereas Luke is content to wait for things to work themselves
out. Given the situation they were in, what were the advantages and
disadvantages of each frame of thinking?
9. Great-grandmother Morrison's love of learning set the
standard against which Kate judged everyone around her. Do you
think Great-grandmother Morrison would have approved of Kate's
disappointment in Matt? Why?
10. The Crow Lake community opened its arms wide to the Morrison
children after their parents were killed. How does this generosity
conflict with the community's collective reaction to Laurie Pye's
disappearance? Why is this?
11. Miss Vernon's stories about the history of Crow Lake suggest
that some patterns can never be broken. How is this true and/or
false for the Pyes and Morrisons?
12. What do the ponds symbolize in this book? What do they
represent to Kate and Matt especially?
13. Was Matt doomed to let Kate down in some way? Do you think
it's possible for any young man to live up to such heroic
14. What do you imagine happens between Kate and Daniel after
the book ends?
15. Do you think Kate's resentment and distaste toward Marie
will lessen as she rebuilds her relationship with Matt?
16. What could Kate learn from Matt to make herself a better
teacher? Do you think she will enjoy teaching more when she returns
from Simon's birthday party?
17. We are meant to assume that Luke and Miss Carrington develop
a romantic relationship at the end of the book. Do you think they
are compatible? Why or why not? What are some examples?
18. Kate and Mrs. Stanovich are complete opposites when it comes
to dealing with tragedy and hardship. What do you think each woman
could learn from the other?
19. Daniel believes that Kate is incapable of empathy. Do you
agree or disagree? Why?
20. What do you think would have become of Luke had his parents
not been killed?
21. As a consequence of the events of her childhood, Kate is a
rather judgmental, withdrawn young woman. Nevertheless, Daniel
falls in love with her. What do you think he sees in her, under her