Reading Group Discussion Guide
In The Shadow of Alabama by Judy Reene Singer
1. Do you believe Malachi’s philosophy about “nature” and its rules? Are the horses and plants obeying them?
2. Rachel considers her sister Sandra the ‘”good daughter”. Does this
make Rachel a “bad” daughter? What is the difference?
3. Do you think the two sisters love each other? Or their mother?
4. What kind of relationship does Rachel have with David? Could you predict where it might go?
5. Should David forgive Rachel and reconcile with her?
6. What do you think of Willie Jackson’s motives? Do you think he is using Rachel to relieve his own guilt?
7. Do you think the bond that forms between Willie and Sgt. Fleischer would have happened anywhere outside of the incubator of Alabama in 1941?
8. Is Martin Fleischer a good man misunderstood? Or a rebel for the sake of being a rebel?
9. Willie makes up a lot of rules to govern his behavior while serving. Is he protecting himself? Or is he overreacting to his circumstances?
10. Do you think Martin’s actions toward August make him a murderer? If not, do you think he is still responsible in some way for what happened, or was it entirely out of his control?
Judy Reene Singer’s newest novel is a masterful story of the American experience. Between the past and present, between love and war, between the burdens of race and hope, a woman returns home to discover her father and a history she had never known . . .
Rachel Fleischer is starting to regret agreeing to visit her father, even if he is on his deathbed. Their relationship was never easy, and all this visit has wrought is more tension, not closure. Her father is no less bitter or cruel for being near the end of his life. But still, when he slips away during a last-ditch surgery, Rachel is ashamed to feel relief more than sadness . . .
When a stranger at her father’s funeral delivers an odd gift and an apology, Rachel finds herself drawn into the epic story of her father’s World War II experience, and the friendships, trauma, scandal, and betrayals that would scar the rest of his life—and cast a shadow across the entire family. As she struggles to make sense of his time as a Jewish sergeant in charge of a platoon of black soldiers in 1940s Alabama, she learns more than just his history. She begins to see how his hopes and disappointments mirror her own—and might finally give her the means to free herself of the past and choose a life waiting in the wings.
“Prepare for Singer to keep you up all night ricocheting between a present day horse farm, family traumas, and the unthinkable racism in the military during WWII. The long arm of war travels through generations in this emotional drama.”—New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Sheehan
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