Part One: Separation
- What was your first experience with grief? What comforted you? What did not?
- What is your image of God — either the God you believe in or don't believe in?
- The author says that grief is not linear. What does she mean? Is that consistent with your experience? What else would you say about the nature of grief?
- The author compares the war in Vietnam with the war on crime. What do you see as the similarities and differences?
- The author describes a justice system aimed at punishing offenders rather than healing the hurts of victims. What would our system look like if we took the hurts to victims seriously?
- Have you ever had a job in which you felt that your principles were compromised? How did you handle that?
- The author quotes Clarence Skinner as saying that the line between good and evil runs through people and not between them. Do you agree? Why does the author say that this is still a radical idea?
- The author believes that how we treat people reveals more about us than it does about them. Do you agree?
- What do you think of the questions posed by restorative justice? How might they lead you to justice in a situation in your life?
- What was a "thin time" in your life? What happened that might not have happened at another time?
- The author speaks of religious people who, during difficult times, expect their religion to give them comfort and others who expect their religion to give them strength. If you consider yourself religious, what do you expect of your religion in tough times?
- What role does sacrifice play in your life? What are you "making sacred?"
- The author calls our culture "death-denying" instead of "life-affirming." What is the difference? In what ways do you deny death rather than affirm life?
Part Two: Search
- The author believes that faith is often the opposite of fear. How do you define faith?
- Think of a current interpretation you have of something that happened in childhood. How has that interpretation shaped your life? Imagine other possible interpretations or points of view.
- Do you think that "some things are better left buried?"
- What would it mean in your life to "befriend" instead of "confront" or "bury" the past?
- The author writes, "Most Americans prefer to think that we wake up to a new world every day only to create the present out of brand new material." Do you agree? What are the ramifications of this?
- "What does it mean to be a man?" Why does the author think this is such an important question?
- One of the main themes of the book is that "going back can change the way we go forward." How have you seen this theme in your life or the lives of others?
- The author writes that even her past is being rewritten. How is that possible?
- The author lived for many years near the man who knew her brother's last words. Imagine that you are connected in some amazing way to someone you pass on the street. What would the connection be? What unusual connections to others have you uncovered?
- The author tells the company commander that he was doing the best he could. Are we all doing the best we can in any given moment?
- The author faces a hard truth about her brother. What truths may be hard for you to face? What truths might be hard for our country to face?
- What do you make of the author's search? Is there a search going on in your life?
- What experiences have you had when "the social constructs that separate 'us' from 'them' fall away?"
- What is your relationship to certainty and ambiguity? Are you more comfortable with one than the other? What are the costs?
- The author distinguishes between literal truth and another kind of truth. Can there be many kinds of truth?
- Do you agree that "remembering...is essential to healing?"?
Part Three: Recovery
- Why do you suppose the author calls this section "Recovery?" What is being recovered and how?
- The author tweaks a quote and concludes, "Nothing human is foreign to me if I am not foreign to myself." What does she mean?
- Imagine a visit to your childhood home. What do you see? What feelings do you experience?
- Andrew Pham's take on "moving on" is shared and the importance of creating "new history." How have you created new history in an area of hurt in your life? How might Americans do this with Vietnam?
- What do you take away from the story of Quan Am?
- If you were going to make a pilgrimage, where would you go?
- How has the author sought opening instead of closure? What is the difference?
- What is the power in being willing to simply witness?
- In what do you place your faith?
- What do you make of the appearance of John Boyce? What does the author make of it?
- Do you agree that "peace and justice require as much or more sacrifice as war?" What keeps us from sacrificing for peace in the way we are willing to sacrifice for war?
- Do you want the U.S. to have a military force? If so, what do we owe them?
- The author writes that when we see others as purely heroes or demons we deny their humanity and ours. Do you agree?
- The author writes that "it's not who or what we demonize, but that we demonize, that is the problem." How has a need for an enemy shaped your life? What would it mean to give up that need?
- Have there been people who could "stay awake" to your pain? Have you been able to stay awake to the pain of others? To your own pain?
- How has going back changed the way the author will go forward?
- If you wrote a memoir with Separation, Search, and Recovery as the sections, what would the underlying story be?
Order the Book
Leave No Brother Behind: A Sister's War Memoir – Autographed and personalized (Indicate names below); includes media rate shipping and applicable taxes.
Leave No Brother Behind: A Sister's War Memoir – Audio Version on 6 Compact Discs. Read by the Author; includes first class shipping and applicable taxes.
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