Discussion Questions

Sugar Birds Book Club/Discussion Questions

1. Fathers play meaningful roles in the novel. What are their impacts, both positive and negative, on Aggie, Celia, and Cabot?

2. Reflect on how members of the Hayes family respond to Bree’s depression. What helped? What could they have done differently?

3.  Discuss the impact fear and the desire for safety have on characters’ beliefs and choices.

4.  Aggie’s and Celia’s mothers hurt them deeply. How do those wounds affect their interactions with others? Their choices?

5.  How do Aggie’s guilt and shame distort her reality early in the book? At what points do you notice her perception shift?  

6.  Discuss the influence grandmother Mender has on Celia. Consider the pros and cons of her example/mentorship.

7. Choose Burnaby, Celia, Aggie, or Cabot, and comment on how fire and/or wilderness illustrate that character’s inner conflict.

8. What made Aggie’s ability to survive more believable for her than it might be for a child that age in your family or neighborhood?

9. How does autism manifest in Burnaby, and how does it both enhance and restrict his keen intelligence? Explore how being on the spectrum both benefits and challenges his relationships.

10.  How does suffering influence Aggie’s perception of God throughout the story?

11. “Consider the birds . . .” appears in the book’s front matter. How do birds—and nature in general—illustrate hope in this story? What else does nature reveal to the characters?

12. Describe Aggie’s path to forgiving Mama and herself. Do you think forgiveness—given and/or received—is necessary for Aggie to heal from her trauma? Discuss its specific role for Aggie.

13. Do you agree with Mender’s description of sugar birds? Why or why not?

14. Which characters’ reactions or responses to nature, crisis, and the people around them did you find most mirror your own?