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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Bright Lights, Big Christmas

1. Kerry states that she never felt at home in her small hometown in the mountains. Has there ever been a point in your life when you had that fish-out-of-water feeling? What place feels most like home to you and why?

2. New York City quickly starts to feel like home to Kerry. What are the forces at play to make her feel welcomed in the heart of the West Village? Has a new place ever unexpectedly begun to feel like home for you?

3. So often in fiction, and especially in Christmas stories, characters flee the big city for a small town. City folk are often regarded with suspicion, and country living is seen as preferable and even more virtuous. This novel turns that trope on its head a bit. Were the author’s characterizations of life in NYC’s West Village surprising to you? Has a place you’d previously thought of as large, intimidating and unwelcoming ever begun to feel otherwise? How so?

4. Kerry faces down her own fear of failure and, with the help of friends, is able to summon the courage to follow her hopes and dreams. Has a fear of failure ever held you back? Who or what helped you overcome it?

5. Murphy is a little set in his ways and too proud to accept Kerry’s suggestions for adapting their Christmas tree business to changing times. In what ways does Kerry improve the Tolliver family tree stand? What forces are at play to help Murphy welcome change?

6. Heinz is dealing with long-held feelings of grief over some particularly hard losses in his life. What is it that ultimately helps set him free? Has grief ever kept you from enjoying the present? How did you deal with that?

7. The ancillary characters in this novel play a big role in Murphy’s and Kerry’s experience in and around Abingdon Square. Who in the neighborhood impacted Murphy the most? Kerry? Are there bit players in your own day-to-day life who are a big part of your own story?

8. Spammy the trailer plays such a big role in this story, becoming somewhat of a main character. What is it about Spammy that makes it so special to Kerry, her family and her new friends? Have you ever felt a real, enduring connection to a family vehicle or other possession?

9. As Christmas Day draws closer, the push is on for the Tollivers to make it back home to Tarburton for the holiday, although forces conspire against this plan. How do Kerry and Murphy make due, given the circumstances? Would you say their Christmas ended up being a merry one after all?

10. Holiday gifts shared at the end of the novel are simple but meaningful. How well-suited were each of the gifts for their recipients? What are your family gift-giving traditions? When do you open gifts? Who do you exchange gifts with?

11. There are so many places to get a Christmas tree --- from a city corner tree stand, to a chop-your-own farm in the country, and every fire house and big box store in between. Where do you buy your Christmas tree? Real or fake? White lights or multi-colored?

Bright Lights, Big Christmas
by Mary Kay Andrews

  • Publication Date: September 26, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 125028581X
  • ISBN-13: 9781250285812