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This reading group guide forThe Braceletincludes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Boston nurse Abby Monroe takes a UN position in one of the most dangerous and unstable countries in the world: Pakistan. Nick Sinclair is a New York Times reporter on a mission to uncover a human trafficking ring that spreads from the villages of India and Pakistan to major cities in the West—and with Abby’s help, he thinks he can finally incriminate the shadowy figure at its heart. As Abby struggles to heal the refugees she works with every day, she also volunteers at a local halfway house, where women who have escaped their captors can recover from the ordeal of being trafficked and work toward a better life. But when a unique piece of jewelry helps Abby realize she’s witnessed a murder by a high-ranking official, she and Nick must break the story before she becomes its next casualty.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Abby takes the nursing position with the UN as a way to escape from her past—the ex-boyfriend who dumped her and the job from which she was laid off. How does her desire to run away mirror that of the underprivileged women and girls who voluntarily go off with traffickers in an attempt to have a better life? Is being able to escape one’s surroundings a privilege of a particular class?
2. Would you ever do as Abby did and travel to a foreign, dangerous place in order to change your life? What are the risks and what are the rewards?
3. Abby feels guilty that she and her roommate Emily left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. How do the atrocities of Katrina compare with what Abby eventually sees in Pakistan? How are they connected?
4. When did you first realize that Najeela is not the trustworthy friend that Abby wanted her to be? What were some red flags? Have you ever been in a similar position with a friend?
5. Abby doesn’t have her own car and it’s dangerous for her, an American woman, to walk the streets of Peshawar alone. How does her isolation in the UN house amplify her own fears and put her at risk? Is she more vulnerable there than she would be at Nick’s hotel? Are there positive aspects of her seclusion?
6. So much of the secrecy surrounding human trafficking, and so much of the shame for the victims, seems to be related to the patriarchal society of Pakistan and its surrounding areas. How does the subjugation of women in this part of the world allow for these greater atrocities to take place?
7. Abby dislikes Nick when she first meets him, but ultimately he proves to be a great romantic hero. Is there ever any doubt that they might end up together? Did you think she’d ever consider going back to Eric? How does Abby and Nick’s love story enhance the novel?
8. On page 166 Zara says, “When women work together, anything is possible.” How are women in a unique position to fight against corruption in the Eastern world?
9. One of the refrains that we hear from so many of the women at the safe house is, “I’m still a good girl.” Why do you think it’s important for them, after their terrible ordeals, to reiterate this phrase? What does this say about their culture, that the victims of sexual crimes are often the ones to be blamed?
10. When the women at the halfway house told their stories, how did you react? Were you able to read the explicit parts? Was it difficult to read?
11. Did you suspect Hana’s and Mohammed’s true loyalties? Were there hints along the way?
12. The Bracelet is a novel, so the events that take place in it are fictional. But human trafficking is a very real and dire problem. How would your understanding of the events of the book change if the book were nonfiction? Does reading a fictional account provide a more accessible window into this world of corruption?
13. What do you think Abby’s future has in store for her? What do you think will come of Abby and Nick’s relationship?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. The most significant characters in The Bracelet are the victims of trafficking—from the women at the halfway house to the missing people whose photos graced the walls of the Protection Tent. Visit the website www.human trafficking.org to learn more about real-life cases and what you and your book club members can do to help.
2. Abby’s volunteer work at the refugee camp in Peshawar is enriching and opens her eyes to a new world. Schedule a volunteer day with your book group. Whether it’s serving food at a local soup kitchen or delivering meals to the infirm, spend some time helping others. Discuss what you learned with your book club.
3. Although Abby eats plenty of cheeseburgers at the American Club, she also enjoys Pakistani cuisine. Consult a Pakistani cookbook and arrange a potluck dinner with your book group!
A nurse, humanitarian aid worker, and writer, Roberta Gately has served in war zones ranging from Africa to Afghanistan. She has written extensively on the subject of refugees for the Journal of Emergency Nursing, as well as a series of articles for the BBC Worlds News Online. She speaks regularly on the plight of the world’s refugees and displaced.