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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Untelling

1. At the heart of The Untelling is the question of how to deal with the past. Aria tries to choose between her mother's approach that a traumatic even can never be overcome and her sister's idea that a person has to put the past behind her. In this novel, which way of dealing with the past is more effective?

2. For much of the novel, Aria is afraid to tell Dwayne her terrible secret. How do you think he would have reacted if she had told him the truth, right up front?

3. Aria and Rochelle live in a neighborhood that is in the middle of urban-renewal. Are there such neighborhoods in your community? What are the pros and cons of such projects?

4. Aria and her sisters were all given unusual names by their parents. Keisha, the young mother, has her own ideas about the best way to name a child. What are your thoughts about this subject?

5. Keisha becomes very angry when she thinks that Lawrence may want to adopt her baby. Who do you think would be the better parent?

6. Whenever Aria's mother becomes angry with her, she says, "This is not what Dr. King died for." What is the role of history in this novel? What historical event "haunts" your own life?

7. At the end of the story, Aria's mother confesses her own terrible secret. Does this make you feel more sympathetic to her? Does it justify her behavior toward her daughters?

8. Infertility is a subject that is talked about "behind closed doors". Why do you think there is such a cultural stigma on the subject? Why do you think there has been so little discussion on this issue, especially in the ways that it affects African-American women?

9. The novel's ending is sort of open-ended. What do you think will become of Aria in terms of her relationship with her family? Dwayne? Keisha?

10. How do you interpret the title of the novel?

The Untelling
by Tayari Jones

  • Publication Date: April 18, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books
  • ISBN-10: 0446532460
  • ISBN-13: 9780446532464