From bestselling author Kristin von Kreisler comes a poignant, uplifting novel of one woman's journey to healing, and the surprising soul mate that helps guide her there.
Lila Elliot knows she's lucky. A shooting rampage at her office left several colleagues dead and others seriously wounded. Lila's injuries will heal in time. Yet though she gratefully retreats to her best friend's house to recuperate, Lila can't quite move past her fear and anger. Being drafted into caring for Grace--a shaggy, formerly abused golden retriever--only adds to her stress. Lila has been terrified of dogs since childhood. But Grace, like Lila, needs time and space to recover.
Grace keeps her distance, sensing Lila's wariness, and only perks up for Adam, the neighbor who rescued her. Though struggling to make sense of her recent tragedy, Lila, an accomplished artist, begins to see beauty in Grace's wisps of fur and haunted eyes. As Adam points out, Grace, too, has suffered through no fault of her own. And in helping Grace to trust, Lila is being gently nudged toward the courage she needs to do the same.
Rich in warmth and humor, An Unexpected Grace is a story of compassion and connection, and of finding that what truly makes us whole again may be the love we give away.
Includes Reading Group Guide
1. Though An Unexpected Grace is about Grace, a golden
retriever, it is also about the idea of grace, which is the
undeserved, unsought good that comes to us. How is
Grace a grace to Lila? In what other ways does grace
come unexpectedly to her? How does it work in the
2. In the beginning, control is very important to Lila when
she tries to take control of awkward situations with Yuri
Makov and she tells Betsy that all she wants is to get her
life under control. How else does control come up in the
story? Does Lila’s attitude about it evolve?
3. When Lila is painting during her first days with Grace,
she alters her breath so it’s not in sync with Grace’s. But
after Grace chases away the raccoon, Lila purposely
breathes in sync with her. What does this say about the
change in Lila’s feelings for Grace? How does the relationship
4. Why does Betsy want Lila not to see herself as a victim?
What difference does it make? How are women who
have been truly victimized supposed to view what happened
5. What’s the significance of Betsy covering Lila with a
Navajo blanket that has stripes of trees, eagles, and lightning
that represent growth, independence, and power?
How do these symbols relate to Lila’s journey in the story?
6. Why does Lila paint only closed doors and gates in the
beginning? Why might Adam urge her to paint them
open? At the end when Lila paints the garden behind the
violet gate, does that indicate a change in her?
7. Is Lila justified to think she might inadvertently have
caused Yuri to go postal? Is it truly important for her to
understand his motive? What’s driving her? Did her
quest help her, or was it a meaningless waste?
8. How do Lila’s Pleaser, Crazy Aunt, and Horny Guttersnipe
cause her stress or conflict? Does she have other
qualities that might make colorful characters too? Does
everyone have secret parts that take over sometimes and
need to be controlled?
9. When Lila dated Reed, her ex-boyfriend, she painted a
series called Odd Juxtapositions. How might that title reflect
Lila and Reed as a couple? How is Lila’s relationship
with Adam different from hers with Reed?
10. What does Betsy mean when she tells Lila to think with
her heart? Is there a difference between thinking with
your heart and with your mind? And what’s the difference
between Sunday school forgiveness and Betsy’s forgiveness
11. Adam tells Lila,” Life isn’t predictable. Sometimes bad
things happen to good people no matter what they’ve
said or done.” Is that always true, or is there always a
cause, like the butterfly effect? Was Lila at fault in her
treatment of Yuri? Could she have contributed to his
12. Adam tells Lila that she and Grace are similar because
they both suffered from a random act of fate. Do you
agree? How important is fate in the story? In what other
ways might Lila and Grace be similar?
13. What is the significance of Lila putting the ribbon
around the stone duck’s neck? Does it reflect anything
going on inside her?
14. How is Lila’s visit with Olga and Marina Makov a turning
point in the story? What does Lila discover about
Yuri? And about herself?
15. Betsy tells Lila that “hard times can be gifts” and getting
shot might be the best thing that ever happened to her.
Do you agree with Betsy? Do Lila’s hard times change
her? What does she learn from them?
16. At the end of the story when Adam’s name goes on
Grace’s ID tag, Lila has the shivery feeling that what’s
happening is bigger than they are. What does she mean?
And what does she mean when she says that she liked
how the gravity of life brought her, Grace, and Adam together?