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by Eggers, David
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1. The book opens with Friday, August 26, an expository chapter that introduces us to Zeitouns family life and his business life, the two very interconnected. What are some of the ways in which the descriptions here draw you in as a reader, and make these people and their situation real? Why is the timeline a good structural choice for this story?

2. Kathy has grown up as a Southern Baptist. Drawn to Islam through her childhood friend Yuko, she decides to convert. Why, when she comes to visit wearing her hijab, does her mother tell her, Now you can take that thing off (57)? Why does the prayer from the Quran quoted on page 51 have a strong effect on her? What does her reaction to the evangelical preacher who mocks Islam and says that Kathys temptation to convert was the work of the devil (6566), say about Kathys character and intelligence?

3. Why has Eggers woven into the story accounts of Zeitouns past in Syria, his upbringing, his brother Mohammed, the champion swimmer, his brother Ahmad, and their close bond? What effect does this framework of family have on your perception of Zeitouns character, his ethics, his behavior?

4. Discuss what happensh when Zeitoun and the others are forced to get into the boat and are taken into custody. Is it clear why they are being arrested? What assumptions are made about Zeitoun and the other three men (27587)?

5. Discuss Kathys situation, and her actions once she learns where Zeitoun is. The aftermath is more difficult, and she still suffers from physical and psychological problems that seem to be the result of post-traumatic stress. What was the most traumatic part of her experience, and why (319)?

6. What is Zeitouns feeling now about what happened? How does he move forward into the future, as expressed in the books closing pages (322-25)?

Additional discussion questions from: Random House
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