1. In the prologue, Ally admits, “Sometimes stepping
back in time is the only way for a girl to move forward.” Is
this something you’ve experienced in your own life? Do you agree
or disagree with the statement?
2. The themes of “coming home” and “escape”
are threaded throughout Beyond Molasses Creek. Discuss each of these
concepts with regards to Ally and Sunila.
3. Both Ally and Sunila long to be free in their own
ways. How does this search for freedom affect their lives? What brought
them to a “captive” state in search of freedom? Is all
captivity imposed, or is it possible to keep oneself in captivity?
4. Education is important to Vesey and later to Sunila.
Why? How can education be a world-changer?
5. Beyond Molasses Creek confronts diversity and prejudice
in both the American South and in Nepal. Have you ever witnessed discrimination
against a person because of their race, religion or beliefs? What
changes have you seen in your lifetime with regards to discrimination?
6. Ally is an artist and keeps a sketchbook to chronicle
the world around her. Is it possible for one person’s art to
become the lifeline to another? Do you think art is made for oneself
or for those around us?
7. How does the setting of Molasses Creek and the South
Carolina lowcountry in this book contribute to both the harming and
the healing of those who live there?
8. Discuss the relationship of Ally and Vesey when they
were children. How and why does it change as they get older? What
outside influences affect that relationship? What about internal influences?
9. In many ways, Beyond Molasses Creek is the story
of transformative Love and Loss. Whose love in this book has the ability
to transform? Is Love or Loss the victor?
10. Ally spends many of her latter years traveling the
world and collecting stone statues for her garden. Discuss the symbolism
of this garden. Can people (or stones or something other) become gods
in our lives?
11. Sunila’s character explores the age-old concepts
of genetics vs. rearing. How do her genetics play into her survival
in contrast to her upbringing? Have you ever seen someone thrive because
of some internal strength even in the midst of poor circumstances?
12. To which main character do you most relate—Vesey,
Ally or Sunila? By the end of the book, which secondary character
became most dear to you? Ally’s father (Doc Green), Margaret,
Graison, or Mr. Assai?
13. Did the dream/theme of the elephants and the white
bird fly right over your head or do you see the symbolic importance
to the book? Several characters in this book “cross over”.
14. Doc Green named his cat “Kat” or “Kathmandu”.
Why would he do this after what happened there? Do you ever keep painful
reminders of your past close at hand?
15. Discuss the importance of lying and truth-telling
in this novel. Ally catches her father telling a lie. Or does she?