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Little Broken Things

Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for Little Broken Things includes 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.

    Introduction

    From author Nicole Baart, whose writing has been called “gorgeously composed” (Publishers Weekly), “taut and engrossing” (Booklist), and “evocative and beautiful” (RT Book Reviews), Little Broken Things is an absorbing and suspenseful story about two estranged sisters reunited by the unexpected arrival of an endangered young girl.

    Topics and Questions for Discussion

    1. Little Broken Things explores motherhood in all its many forms. Tiffany and Liz are official parents, but Nora and Quinn also take on mothering roles in the book. What makes a good mother? Would you consider these women good mothers?

    2. Liz is unlike the other characters in the novel. She’s old-fashioned, patriarchal, and even a little racist. How does she change throughout the book? What do you think prompts this change?

    3. In the novel, Nora sacrifices a great deal for Tiffany and Everlee. Why do you think she does that? Would you have done the same in her position?

    4. Remembering her late husband, Liz says: “Jack Sanford had not been a good man. True, he was steady and levelheaded and hardworking. He had made a way for himself in a world that favored the lucky, the people who were born with privilege and a place at the table. Jack Sr. had none of those things. But he took a small farmer’s inheritance and made something of it, built a legacy for his wife and kids and fought for it every day of his life. If he argued the validity of a bootstraps philosophy, it was only because he pulled himself up by them. A success story.” Do you feel that Jack’s challenges and determination in any way justify his actions?

    5. Tiffany’s story is one of heartbreak and loss. She leaves because she believes her daughter will be better off without her. Is this act sacrificial or selfish? Do you agree with her decision?

    6. Nora thinks of her sister as “perfect little Quinn.” In what ways does Quinn live up to that reputation? In what ways does she defy her sister’s expectations?

    7. Why do you think Tiffany named her daughter Everlee?

    8. Although Liz is loath to admit that she and Walker have some- thing in common, they are indeed both artists. Throughout the novel, what are some ways these two characters’ art influences their worldviews?

    9. Who is your favorite character in Little Broken Things? Why? Is there a character you don’t like or don’t understand? Explain.

    10. Why do you think Liz’s relationship with her daughters is so strained, and who—if anyone—is to blame? Do you have hope for them at the end of the book?

    11. Throughout the novel, Everlee’s paternity is in question. How does the revelation of her real father affect your reading of the novel? Does it change your perspective of certain characters?

    12. Toward the end of the novel, Liz tells Macy: “I think I have a God complex.” Do you agree that this affliction could apply to a multiple characters in Little Broken Things? If so, which ones?

    13. At the end of the novel, Tiffany makes a very deliberate decision that ends in Donovan’s death. Is she a killer?

    14. Walker names his sculpture Elizabeth Undone. Why do you think he does this? Is that an appropriate title for his piece?

    Enhance Your Book Club

    1. Art plays an important role in Little Broken Things. Visit an art gallery with your book club, or if there is not one nearby, encourage book club members to share a picture of their favorite pieces of art.

    2. Motherhood is a major theme in the novel, and many of us often forget how much sacrifice and love it requires. Take a moment today to thank your mother for the role she plays in your life. Send a card or flowers, or simply pick up the telephone. If your mother is no longer living, share a treasured memory of her with a friend or family member.

    3. The Sanfords were known for their fabulous parties. Throw a party for your next book club meeting. Dress up, drink champagne, and enjoy some of the appetizers mentioned throughout Little Broken Things (e.g. endive stuffed with goat cheese and blood oranges; prosciutto-wrapped figs; or cherry tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil skewers).

    4. Like Everlee, many children from broken homes find themselves in difficult situations and could use a little kindness and help. Make a donation of clothing, toys, or money to your state foster care organization or bring grocery items to your local food pantry. You never know the impact your gift may have on a child and his or her family!

More Books From This Author

The Beautiful Daughters
Sleeping in Eden
Far from Here
The Snow Angel

About the Author

Nicole Baart
Photograph by Ellenvelde Photography

Nicole Baart

Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of eight previous novels, including Little Broken Things and The Beautiful Daughters. Learn more at NicoleBaart.com.

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