Topics & Questions for Discussion
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1. At the beginning of Everything We Didn’t Say, Juniper pulls into Jericho and we see the small town through her eyes. What can you infer about her childhood and her complicated connection to her hometown in these first few pages?
2. Juniper’s relationship with her mother is fraught to say the least. Rebecca makes her feel exiled from Jericho and un- worthy of a meaningful relationship with her own daughter. But on page 324 Reb refutes that belief by explaining why she pushed Juniper away: “Don’t you see? I saved you. I wasn’t going to let you repeat my mistakes.” What do you think? Was Juniper banished? Or did Reb save her by ensuring that she went to college, finished her degree, and led a successful, independent life?
3. Fatherhood also plays an important role in Everything We Didn’t Say. Juniper never knew her biological father, and her stepfather was often stiff and aloof. How do you think this affects her as both a teen and a grown woman?
4. They say that opposites attract and that’s certainly true in Everything We Didn’t Say. Lawrence and Rebecca and Sullivan and June are a couple of obvious mismatches. What makes their relationships work? Or do you think they were doomed from the start? Are there other unexpected pairings?
5. When they were teenagers, June knew that her best friend, Ashley, had a significant crush on Sullivan. Still, June allows herself to fall in love with him. Do you think her actions are unforgivable or understandable?
6. When talking with Cora, teenage June wonders: “What are Jericho’s ideals?” Cora says: “Community. Family. Faith.” June counters: “Tradition. Uniformity. Compliance.” Who do you agree with? Why?
7. Although the specifics of the situation surrounding the Tate and Murphy feud are fictional, there truly are more than 750 impaired waterways in Iowa alone (meaning they fail to meet state requirements for supporting aquatic insects, fishing, swimming, or boating). And the United States is crisscrossed with bodies of water that do not meet pollution control standards. Do you think enough is being done to keep our environment clean? Why or why not? How should we balance agriculture and industry with environmental concerns?
8. Willa isn’t sure what to do with her mother when Juniper returns, and Juniper doesn’t know how to act like a real mom. What do you think Juniper could have/should have done differently? Do you think her absence is understand- able and forgivable? Explain.
9. In chapter 11, adult Juniper finds herself in the Murphy’s old coop during a snowstorm with Sullivan. They embrace, and he kisses her. How does this interaction make you feel? Can you forgive them for their indiscretion?
10. Talk about Juniper’s relationship with Jonathan. How did it change over the years? Do you think Jonathan should have come clean about the Murphys and the Tates to Juniper when they were teenagers? How do you think that might have affected things?
11. People sometimes do inexplicable things for love, and the characters in Everything We Didn’t Say are no different. Talk about this in relation to Law, Reb, Jonathan, Juniper, and Sullivan. Do you think their actions were justified? Why or why not?
12. In the first chapter we read: “Maybe it was all her [Juniper’s] fault that a killer in Jericho walked free.” At the end of the book we learn that Juniper, Jonathan, and Sullivan all kept secrets about that night. Do you think their deceit was justified? Do you think it would have changed anything if they came clean right away?
13. Juniper wants Willa to have a relationship with her father and she’s determined to make it work. Do you think that there’s hope for Willa and Sullivan? How do you think Ash- ley will react? How would you like to see their story end?
14. How much do you believe Reb knew about the night that Cal and Beth were killed? Do you think she suspected (and covered up for) her husband? Give evidence to support your beliefs.
15. Everything We Didn’t Say is told in alternating viewpoints (June as a teenager and Juniper as an adult). In some ways, these are opposite and opposing perspectives: summer and winter; beginning and end; innocent and jaded; unknowing and worldly wise. Discuss the differences in Juniper, past and present. How does she change? How does she stay the same? Do you like June or Juniper better? Why?