A surprise trip to Barcelona with her boyfriend, Jake, seems like the perfect antidote to Grace Sawyer's current woes. The city is dazzling and unpredictable, but the biggest surprise for Grace is discovering who arranged and paid for the vacation.
Carrie Ann wasn't just Grace's foster sister. Clever, pretty, and mercurial, she was her best friend--until everything went terribly wrong. Now, as she flees an abusive marriage, Carrie Ann has turned to the one person she hopes will come through for her. Despite her initial misgivings, Grace wants to help. But then Carrie Ann and Jake both go missing. Stunned and confused, Grace begins to realize how much of herself she's kept from Jake--and how much of Carrie Ann she never understood. Soon Grace is baited into following a trail of scant clues across Spain, determined to find the truth, even if she must revisit her troubled past to do it. . .
Mary Carter's intriguing novel delves into the complexities of childhood bonds, the corrosive weight of guilt and blame, and all the ways we try--and often fail--to truly know the ones we love.
Praise for Mary Carter
"A touching novel." --Publishers Weekly on The Things I Do For You
"This is guaranteed to become one of the books on your shelf that you'll want to read again." --The Free Lance-Star on The Pub Across the Pond
1. Grace Sawyer is leery when she and her boyfriend, Jake,
“win” a trip to Spain. Should she have followed her initial
reservations and remained at home?
2. If Grace had remained at home, do you think Carrie
Ann would have showed up in Nashville instead?
3. Grace’s mother isn’t well and may not have long to live.
How does that influence Grace’s decisions throughout?
Had her mother been well, do you think Grace would
have told her that Carrie Ann had come back from the
past? Would it have changed any of the outcomes if she
4. In the beginning, Grace is obsessed with a bad review
from Marsh Everett. Does her perspective change by the
end? In what way?
5. What influence does the setting of Barcelona play in the
events as they unfold? Could the story have just as easily
taken place in Paris, or Rome?
6. Do you think that confronting her past changes Grace as
an artist? If no, why not? If yes, in what way?
7. If Carrie Ann had never showed up in Barcelona, do you
think Grace would have ever tried to find her? Why or
why not? Do you think it was ultimately a positive thing
for Grace that she was forced to confront Carrie Ann and
the past? Please discuss.
8. Along those lines, do you think Grace would have eventually
told Jake the truth about Carrie Ann and Stan?
Why or why not?
9. Carrie Ann and Grace had a complex love/hate relationship.
Was Carrie Ann all to blame? Did Grace let Carrie
Ann down after she went to live with the Gales?
10. Do the events in Barcelona make Jake and Grace stronger
as a couple, weaker, or not changed at all?
11. Marsh Everett thinks Grace should “sing her pain.” Yet
while in Barcelona, she finds joy in Gaudí’s and Miró’s
works. Does the best art come from joy or pain?
12. Grace finds herself attracted to Jean Sebastian and leans
on him when Carrie Ann and Jake disappear. In retrospect,
you might say she had “blinders” on when it comes
to him. She doesn’t see him for who he really is. Is there
anyone else in her life she’s ever applied these same
“blinders” to? Carrie Ann? Stan? What about Jake?
13. Do you think Grace and Carrie Ann will remain in each
other’s lives, or will they drift apart?
14. People always ask, “Were there any warning signs?” What
about Stan and the revelations in the end? Were there
any warning signs? Could he have been “helped” if someone
had noticed the warning signs and intervened?
15. Magicians, costumes, identity, and denial—please discuss
how these symbols and themes are interwoven throughout
16. Was Carrie Ann an evil girl, or just a product of abandonment
and neglect? Has she changed? Can she
change? Does Carrie Ann really love Grace?