Skip to main content

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Island of Wings

1. What is Lizzie’s attitude toward the islanders when they first arrive at St. Kilda? How does this change over the course of the story?

2. In what ways does the physical landscape of the island limit the MacKenzies in their daily lives as they’re accustomed to living them? How do they learn to cope with these conditions?

3. It seems that the mainland people who visit St. Kilda either condemn the people for their primitive ways or idealize the island for its peaceful, democratic society. Why are their opinions so extreme? How do you view the island? Do you see truth in either perspective?

4. The birds of St. Kilda are present throughout this book. What role do they serve in the lives of the islanders and what role do they serve in the story?

5. Long before the MacKenzies arrive at St. Kilda, the islanders established their own religion. How would you describe it, and how is it similar to or different from Christianity?

6. Neil MacKenzie is haunted by an event from his past. What is this event and what does his own interpretation of it tell us about him?

7. The “eight-day sickness” haunts the island of St. Kilda. How does the death of newborns impact the characters individually and collectively?

8. Over the course of the book, Neil’s doubts about his place on the island and his relationship to God deepen. What causes him to question himself? How does he manage these doubts?

9. Neil and Lizzie go through some difficult times in their marriage. What causes their problems and how can they fix them?

10. How have Neil and Lizzie MacKenzie changed from their experience by the end of the book? Do you feel hopeful about their lives together?

Island of Wings
by Karin Altenberg

  • Publication Date: December 27, 2011
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • ISBN-10: 0143120662
  • ISBN-13: 9780143120667