♦ When I started writing A Family of Strangers, I had one word on my whiteboard: Escape. Does the idea of escape come through in Addy’s, Steph’s and Brenda’s stories? What other themes do you see in the novel?
♦ Moving house to the seaside or countryside is an increasingly popular lifestyle choice in Australia. Do you know anyone who has done it? Were they truly prepared, or did they struggle in their transition from big city to small town retreat?
♦ Blending a family, whether it’s gaining in-laws or a child, is a huge task that most people underestimate. Steph struggles with her relationship with her stepdaughter’s biological mother as well as her relationship with Zoe herself. Are there other relationships within blended families that are challenging? Who is responsible for those relationships?
♦ Women’s alcohol consumption rates are fast catching up to men’s; and studies during the Covid-19 pandemic showed women to be drinking more than men. Why do you think these changes are happening?
♦ Scroll through social media and you’ll find jokes like “It must be five o’clock somewhere!” or someone telling you “Have a drink, you deserve it!” What is our culture’s relationship with alcohol that makes it more socially acceptable than prescription or illegal drugs? Is alcohol any less dangerous than drugs?
♦ Part of Steph’s anguish as she tries to juggle work and home is a common frustration for women. Who carries the mental load in your household? Have you tried to shift it or share it? How did you go about it?
♦ Although bullying in the workplace can happen with workers at the same level, it is often a power dynamic. Why do you think it is so under-reported? What role does the fear of losing a job and income play in how someone deals with the situation?
♦ Despite many young people coming out on the spectrum of sexuality and gender, there are still those who keep their true selves hidden. How does hiding your identify affect your health?
♦ Is it easier to come out today or does it still present challenges? What do you believe are the best conditions to foster someone’s coming out within a family?
♦ What were Addy’s, Steph’s and Brenda’s reasons for joining the choir? Do you think belonging to a group is important for mental health?
♦ Group dynamics can make or break a group. What do you think are the important elements that enable a group to function?
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