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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

You Were Always Mine

1. In the beginning of the novel (page 30), Mother’s Day brings up a flurry of emotions for Cinnamon and Daisy. Daisy’s mother died when she was young, and Cinnamon’s mother abandoned her as a baby, leaving them both to grieve a similar loss under different circumstances. How do you think these losses affect their individual views of motherhood?

2. Do you feel Cinnamon’s experience of being abandoned as a baby and spending her childhood in the foster care system was a major factor in why she chose to bring Bluebell into her home rather than involving the authorities right away? Why or why not?

3. In addition to themes of motherhood, YOU WERE ALWAYS MINE has many frank conversations about race. In chapter four, Cinnamon recounts a personal experience being in foster care when a white woman took her to the local art museum to see a collection of 19th-century photographs of Black caretakers. Cinnamon has flashbacks of one photograph she saw that day of a young Black child caring for an infant white baby. Why do you think after all these years Cinnamon is remembering this photograph, and how do the feelings it brings up influence her thinking about the possibility of raising Bluebell?

4. Along those lines, Cinnamon’s husband, Jayson, says that it would be impossible for him as a Black man to raise a white little girl, to even take her to the park. How do you think his fears impact Cinnamon’s decision-making about both Bluebell and their marriage?

5. Throughout the novel, readers experience every step of Cinnamon caring for Bluebell in real time, whereas we mostly hear from Daisy through a series of letters, recounting her reasons for leaving Bluebell, her journey, and her reflections about her past and future. Do Cinnamon and Daisy’s alternating voices highlight any important similarities or differences about their experiences and decisions during the novel? Did you relate to one character in particular?

6. In Cinnamon and Lucia’s quest to track down Daisy, the pair of friends learn of unsettling information about Daisy’s grandfather having ties to a white supremacist group (page 122). How do you think this might initially impact Cinnamon’s feelings toward Daisy? Bluebell?

7. Much of this story focuses on the characters grappling with, revisiting and coming to terms with their pasts. Why do you think Cinnamon decided to keep her time in foster care a secret from those closest to her, especially Jayson?

8. Daisy grew up never knowing her mother or father, just like Cinnamon. Do you think this influenced the connection the two women made?

9. Daisy was raised in an openly racist household, having never known anyone who wasn’t white for a majority of her life. Daisy’s friendship with Cinnamon is one she recognized would anger her grandfather, but she kept this grim satisfaction to herself (pages 173–174). Do you think that factored into her decision to leave Bluebell with Cinnamon one way or another?

10. How does Lucia’s open judgment impact Cinnamon and her decision to temporarily care for Bluebell? Is Lucia right to share her opinion on Cinnamon’s choices? Why or why not?

11. Do you believe Cinnamon should have consulted Jayson before agreeing to foster Bluebell? What if he’d refused? Should she then have left Bluebell to the foster system?

12. Cinnamon’s experience with family, outside of her grandma Thelma, was very traumatic. She experienced abandonment, unstable living conditions, and felt disposed of by family members who agreed to care for her in place of her birth parents. When Celia tries to re-enter Cinnamon’s life, she is forced to work through her past. What do you think Cinnamon should have done? Did Aunt Celia deserve forgiveness?

13. One of the important themes of this book is the idea of chosen family, and Cinnamon finds that in her first best friend, Lucia. How does this friendship affect Cinnamon? When Lucia says, “I’ve got you” (page 203), how do you think these three simple words make Cinnamon feel? Supported? Relieved? What might this mean to Cinnamon in the long term?

14. Is Jayson’s response to learning about Cinnamon’s time in foster care and homelessness warranted? Does the fact that she kept so much from him make Cinnamon a stranger, or were you sympathetic to her reasoning? Why or why not?

15. Knowing what she knows about them, what do you think Cinnamon was feeling when Taylor informed her that Daisy’s grandparents were coming forward to claim the baby? Is reunification the right solution given the history? Was Cinnamon wrong to knowingly lie to Taylor at CPS? Can you understand her motivations?

You Were Always Mine
by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

  • Publication Date: June 11, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 1668005522
  • ISBN-13: 9781668005521