If you are interested in having the author as part of your book club discussion of Hearts of the Missing, please contact me by email to coordinate dates.
Hearts of the Missing Questions
Nicky is an outsider in the reservation but seems to understand that it is okay to not be included in some of the cultural experiences. There are several characters that are also outsiders and yet seem to feel that they should be allowed to take part or to force their beliefs onto tribal members. How do you feel about non-members trying to change their beliefs?
What do you think should be the criteria for determining whether someone is a member of a tribe? DNA? Blood quantum? Speaking the language? Participating in tribal activities? Living on a reservation? How do you deal with people claiming to be part of a tribe based on family stories? (submitted by HH)
Do you see Nicky as having successful professional relationships with her co-workers on a day-to-day basis, or will their always be tension and animosity? Do you see her as having successful personal relationships? Are there specific types of people with whom she gets along better?
There are several old friendships in the novel—Ryan and Savannah, Nicky and Savannah—as well as relationships among the people of the reservation. How do these friendships help—or in some cases, hurt—the people involved?
Nicky sees a white rabbit after she has the vision of the old lady in the reflection in the glass. A white rabbit is a recurring theme in Alice in Wonderland and are featured in Native American and Chinese Cultures. What does the white rabbit symbolize for Nicky and in the book?
Old grievances play an important role in the story. When do you think that forgiveness is or is not possible?
What do you think will ultimately happen to Savannah and Ryan’s relationship/friendship? What would you like to see happen? The same question could be asked for Nicky and Frank or Nicky and Dax.
Many Native American/Indigenous Peoples are reluctant to submit to DNA tests, even the simple ‘ancestry’ type. Why do you think that’s so? Have you submitted your DNA to a testing site? What did you learn about your ancestry and has it changed how you think about yourself?
Urban legends about people being killed to harvest their organs have been around for quite a while. Do you think those stories and a book like this one discourage people from signing up to be organ donors? (submitted by HH)
The author teaches college chemistry and biochemistry. Do you think her science background makes this a better book? Or did the science detract from the story in any way? (submitted by HH)
Both the traditional and the modern are presented in Hearts of the Missing in many forms: for example, Juanita Benami and Squire Concho. Where else in the story can you find this contrast between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’?
Putting on his ancestors’ mask gave Howard courage. He absorbed their power and felt he belonged. Do you have (or have you had in the past) an object that gave you courage? (submitted by HH. Great question)
Nicky has a sixth sense/visions. How do you think the inclusion of the supernatural affected the book? Did you find her experiences believable? Do you think they can be explained by natural phenomena? (submitted by HH)
Would it surprise you to know the ghost stories in this book are ‘true’? Have you ever experienced anything supernatural in your life?
Although there are nineteen Native American Pueblos in New Mexico, the Tsiba’ashi D’yini (Fire-Sky) tribe depicted in Hearts of the Missing is fictional. How do you feel about that?
Even though they are marketed as fiction, books based on actual contemporary or historical events are very popular. Sometimes it is difficult for the reader to decipher what is ‘true’ and what in made up by the author to advance a story. Does this bother you? Do you feel the author should ‘clue’ in the reader, especially when science or current events are involved?