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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Space Between Before and After

1. Kilian, a young woman living with cystic fibrosis, is a central character in the novel. In what ways does learning of this condition alter Holli’s response to her son’s relationship with Kilian? How would you react if your child became involved with someone living with a serious medical condition?

2. When she marries Harrison, Hollyanne changes her name to Holli. Why did she make this decision and what is she trying to accomplish? Do you think she succeeds?

3. What individual motivations draw Raine and Georgia together in friendship? How does the relationship evolve with time? Is Holli right to resent Raine’s attachment to Georgia?

4. When the facts of Celia’s death are revealed to Holli by Grandma Raine, they absolve Georgia, and to a certain extent Ray, of responsibility for the loss of Celia and the baby. Even in light of this, Holli cannot let go of her anger toward Georgia. What other factors play into Holli’s feelings about her stepmother? Are they valid?

5. Holli is terribly upset when she learns of Kilian’s pregnancy. She has great concern over the impact a baby would have on Conner’s life, and she admits to herself that she wants there to be some “medical, of not moral” reason for the pregnancy to be terminated. Given this, why is she devastated by the news that Kilian has ended the pregnancy?

6. Why did Kilian lie about having the abortion? Do you think she did this to protect Conner, or were her reasons self-serving?

7. How do you feel about Grandma Raine’s “visitations” with her lost daughter and, likewise, Holli’s occasional, strong sense of her mother’s presence? Do you believe that spiritual elements of those we love remain among us?

8. How responsible is Harrision for the break-up of his marriage to Holli? Did Holli’s childhood baggage drive the demise of their relationship, or were her reactions to Harrison’s behavior in the marriage appropriate?

9. In spite of the fact that Tina was the result of Ray’s infidelity with Georgia, Holli adores her stepsister and develops a life-long bond with the younger woman. What accounts for Holli’s lack of resentment --- and in fact her abiding devotion --- towards a sibling who was the product of such painful circumstances?

10. Significant events in Holli’s family run parallel with flashpoints involving human exploration in space. How do you think the triumphs and tragedies of NASA affect us as a nation? What do they represent in our cultural identity?

The Space Between Before and After
by Jean Reynolds Page

  • Publication Date: May 13, 2008
  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Avon A
  • ISBN-10: 0061452181
  • ISBN-13: 9780061452185