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Discussion Questions For Book Clubs

1. Describe Judy’s feelings for Mattie over the years. If you were cared for by someone in addition to your parents, someone like Mattie, did you have similar (or different) feelings for her?

2. How were the Kurtzes different from the other families in Rock Hill who had maids? If your family employed a maid when you were growing up, how was your family similar to (or different from) the Kurtzes?

3. What does the confrontation between Judy’s father and Mr. Blankenship over Thelma’s promotion at The Smart Shop reveal about the men’s differing world views? Did you witness anything similar to this when you were growing up?

4. Mattie refuses to sit at the dinner table with the Kurtz family. She appears unsettled when Donald brings his African American friend home from the Army and he is seated at the dinner table. Why do you think Mattie was unwilling to sit at the dinner table with the family? Why was she angry that Donald’s friend was sitting with them? What does Judy’s mother pulling the curtains closed say about racial injustice?

5. How do you see the relationship between Mattie and Judy’s mother? In what ways did race affect (or not affect) their relationship?

6. What does the situation Judy discovered about Mattie and her insurance policies say about racial injustice? How has this changed (or not changed) over the years?

7. Why do you believe Mattie refused Judy’s request to attend church with her?

8. How well do you think Judy truly knew Mattie?

9. What are the differences between the racism Mattie faced in the 1940’s and the racism African Americans face today? In what ways is racial injustice still prevalent in today’s society? What can we as individuals do to encourage change?

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