IF THE TIDE TURNS: Discussion Guide

  1. The book alternates between Maria’s and Sam’s points of view. How did this impact your reading experience, and who do you think is the hero of the book?
  2. The sea is core to the setting and characters. What do you think it represents?
  3. Why do you think Maria chose exile? Have you ever found yourself in a similar position, forced to make a difficult decision between honoring yourself and belonging to a community?
  4. If the Tide Turns moves away from Hollywood portraits of the Golden Age of Pirates in favor of historical accuracy. What surprised you in what you learned?
  5. Elizabeth makes very different choices from the ones Maria makes. What do you think about this, and how can we make space for others to navigate their own life paths?
  6. What do you think motivated the behavior of Mrs. Brown and Thomas Davis?
  7. Why do you think the title begins with the word If?
  8. Maria’s powerful intuition gets her into trouble in her community. How do we consider and treat female intuition now, more than three hundred years later?
  9. Though Maria and Sam’s story has been passed on for generations, it rarely includes discussion about the Indigenous experience. What does including Eastham’s politics and Abiah as a
    character add to this story?
  10. Julian tells Sam, “It’s a brutal world, no matter where you go, Bellamy. We are all complicit in the cycle of it. No one is innocent. But at least we pirates own the ways we aren’t.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
  11. Many characters in If the Tide Turns ask themselves, in different ways, whether change is possible when confronted with class, race, power, and equality. In what way do these themes still apply today? Do you think change is possible?
  12. Who would you cast in a film adaptation of If the Tide Turns?
  13. What fascinated you most about the Author’s Note and the true story behind this novel?
  14. Before reading this book, what was your understanding of witches and pirates? Have your feelings changed after reading it?