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ICE Breakers



What impact does this novel gain by personalising the human story behind one person’s escape?

Cummins never touches on gratuitous violence or goes into detail about how Javier carries out his terror, instead she shows the human side of him too.  How does this impact the story?  Do you feel any sympathy for Javier?

Do you think if Lydia’s 'back story' had been different, the novel would have been as powerful?

What do you think is the significance of the title “American Dirt”, especially when Cummins doesn’t use the term “American” in her book? 

Lydia doesn’t even know they had crossed the border, the actual moment passes unnoticed.  What is the importance of this?

Does this novel enlighten you to the danger faced by migrants, particularly women?

What effect do you think this experience would have on a child like Luca in the future?

Were you surprised by the epilogue or was it how you imagined life would be for Lydia and Luca?

Do you think Cummins has achieved her aim of bringing this story to our attention by humanising the individual's reasons for making this treacherous crossing into the unknown?



Do you feel it is important to be Catholic or religious to empathise with Cyril’s mother? How did it resonate in your group and what stories did it ignite?

The book has been described as ‘'the story of Ireland’. Do you think this it Boyne’s objective?  

What other themes struck you? Is this Boyne’s story? 

Did you enjoy his writing style and what other authors does it remind you of?  Have you read any other novels by Boyne such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and  'A Ladder to the Sky'?

Can you see book hitting the big screen and would you go and see it?  


Do you agree with Anthony McCarten that both Popes were reluctant to take the position? 

Do you think either should have been given this position based on the doubt about their involvement or lack of helping in their homeland's authoritarian regimes?

From reading this book, do you think under Pope Francis the catholic church is undergoing a modernisation and resurgence? And do you think Pope Francis has kept to his promise of reforming the Church?

Why do you think Pope Benedict changed from a young man full of revolutionary ideas to being one of the most traditionalist popes of recent time?

Did you find this story compelling, even if you are not Catholic?

Did this story enlighten you on many issues, particularly with regards secrecy, denial and cover-ups within the Church or do you think it is a sign that nothing has changed?

"Were we able to look far into the future of the Catholic Church and learn that its fate was to become nothing more than a sacred book club, where fans gathered once a week to discuss their favourite characters and chapters, debate passionately the themes, and draw real-life lessons from shared readings, it could do a lot worse."  Do you agree with McCarten's closing statement?

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