Nicole Seitz, Author of Southern Fiction
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BEYOND MOLASSES CREEK
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Overview
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Reader's Guide/Book Club Questions

THE INHERITANCE OF BEAUTY
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SAVING CICADAS
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A HUNDRED YEARS OF HAPPINESS
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TROUBLE THE WATER
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THE SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS
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Gullah/Sweetgrass links
Recent Progress in Gullah/Geechee and sweetgrass culture

RECOMMENDATIONS
A Partial List of Authors/Books I Adore

 

 

 

books - The Spirit of Sweetgrass

Reader's Guide/Book Club Discussion Questions

*Certain plot "spoiler" questions have been left off here. Enjoy the complete Reader's Guide in the back of The Spirit of Sweetgrass.

  1. Does Daddy Jim truly sit with Essie Mae and speak with her? What does EJ believe? How about Henrietta? Why do you think Daddy Jim visits Essie Mae at her roadside stand? Why doesn’t he come to the house on Rifle Range Road? If Daddy Jim truly loves Essie Mae, why do you think he won’t go to Sunnydale Farms?

  2. Essie Mae feels she’s found her calling in life. What is her calling? Have you found your calling in life? If so, how did you realize it? If not, what may be standing in your way? Do you believe everyone has a calling?

  3. Essie Mae is 78-years-old. Is she part of your generation, your mother’s, or your grandmother’s? What characteristics does she share with women of her generation?

  4. Both Jeffrey Lowes and Jackson Hemmingway were cared for as children by Essie Mae. What do you think about nanny-child relationships? What does it say to you that a white family chooses a nanny who is African-American?

  5. What do you think Essie Mae is most afraid of? How does she handle that fear? What do you think Henrietta is most afraid of? How does she handle her fears? Have you ever considered what you’re most afraid of? How might your fears impact your actions and your loved ones?

  6. What does Essie Mae learn about Henrietta in the course of this book? What does she learn about herself?

  7. When Essie Mae is in heaven she says, “It’s a wonder we understand each other a’tall down on Earth what with us only seeing little snippets of folks every now and again.” Does Essie Mae ever understand her daughter, Henrietta? Does Henrietta ever understand her mother? In any relationship, how important is it that we understand each other? What are some ways to foster better understanding?

  8. In what ways is The Spirit of Sweetgrass a love story?

  9. In this book, Essie Mae has a strong spiritual connection to places: Mount Pleasant, the lime-green house, her roadside stand, Africa, heaven. Do you have a spiritual connection to a place? Explain.

  10. The themes of home and homeland are strong in The Spirit of Sweetgrass. Why is heritage and paying homage to homeland important? What is Essie Mae’s true homeland? What is yours?

  11. The themes of life and death are threaded throughout this book. What are some instances of these events? How do these events affect the characters in the book? Essie Mae? Jeffrey? Henrietta?

  12. Discuss the use of color in The Spirit of Sweetgrass. Are these colors symbolic in any way?

  13. The notion of “Power” or being “powerful” fuels this story. What is Power, where does it come from, and who has it? Does Essie Mae have power in the beginning of the book? In the end? Is there power in Essie Mae’s “love baskets”?

  14. Who or what is “the spirit of sweetgrass”?

  15. Heaven is an important setting in this book. Describe what you imagine heaven is like. What do you hope it will be like? Do you have any fears about heaven? Do you believe there’s a connection between heaven and Earth?
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Copyright © 2007 Nicole Seitz. All rights reserved.
The Spirit of Sweetgrass Trouble the Water, coming February 2008!