Reading Group Guides


A Secret Word


Point Clear


The Weight of Memory



Discussion Points


1.      The novel is narrated from three different points of view.  Why do you think Jennifer Paddock chose to tell her story this way?  Even though Leigh begins and ends the novel, do you think she is the main character?  Whom did you identify with the most?


2.    Why do you think Leigh’s mother, Suzanne, wouldn’t tell her daughter who her father was?  Why is it important to Leigh to find out her father’s name?  Do Chandler and Sarah help her to want to search for him?  Does Walker?


3.    Sarah moved to New York City to become an actress and a singer.  Why did she lose ambition after she got married?  Do you think she will try again later?


4.    Chandler says that she lost all ambition after her father’s suicide: “The answer is simple: my father killed himself, and it has stalled me, and changed me, and I am not ambitious anymore.”  (p. 29)  Do you think that’s true?


5.    After Hurricane Katrina, the three women call out names into the wind.  What is the importance of calling out Trey’s name?  Why do they call out Walker’s name?


6.    When Leigh first learns about her Cherokee ancestry, she feels proud.  Then later she learns that Suzanne’s mother, her grandmother, was embarrassed.  How is she able to cope with that realization?


7.    Sarah’s father is a successful heart surgeon who has been married six times and had children and stepchildren by each wife.  Why does Sarah feel abandoned by him sometimes and other times seems to love him even more than she loves her mother?


8.    Do you think Chandler’s marriage to Mark was ever a happy one or was Chandler just searching for someone to love her like her father did?  When Mark left, did she have the same sense of abandonment as she had when she received the news from her mother that her father had killed himself?


9.    Chandler says that her mother is now thinking like an amnesiac.  Her mother says, “Today you are happy.  Don’t worry about the future.  That will just drive you crazy.” (p. 248).  Does Chandler think this is a wise statement?  Do you?


10.  Why do you think the novel is titled The Weight of Memory?  Discuss the dual nature of memories.  Have you ever felt weighted down by them?  Have you ever felt comforted by them?


11.  The Weight of Memory is part of a trilogy, yet each novel stands on its own.  Have you read Paddock’s other novels, A Secret Word and Point Clear?  How do you think the three are similar?  How are they different?