Discussion Questions For the Year of Thorns and Honey

  1. At the start of the story, Nina finds herself back in a romantic relationship with her ex-husband. Have you ever given a past relationship of any sort another try after its original demise? What were the lessons learned?
  2. There is a thread of “secrets kept” running through this novel. Nina keeps a secret from Jack regarding a professional opportunity she has. Why do you think she does that? How would things have been different if she told him sooner?
  3. Nina is also hiding the truth about the fact that her brother has started drinking again. Have you ever kept a secret for someone that you wish you hadn’t?
  4. Nina struggles to accept that her only daughter is quickly approaching adulthood and doesn’t need her “mommy” as much as she once did. What does their mother/daughter struggle say about the bonds of parenthood, both good and bad?
  5. Honesty and the lack thereof is an issue in this novel as well. Lola’s brother-in-law’s dishonesty with his wife causes a bigger misunderstanding. Why do you think people struggle to tell each other the truth when a lie will most certainly make things worse. 
  6. Nina has a tendency toward flight of fancy or fantastical thinking when it comes to her relationships. What do these imaginary distractions say about her? Why do you think people pretend things that aren’t really happening?
  7. Oliver returns in this book and is a sort of wisdom, but also a touch of comic relief. Why do you think that Nina wants a relationship with him after all this time? 
  8. Nina is a planner. She’s got her own ideas of what the future will be. She often gets in her own way in regards to her happiness and the happiness of others. Why do you think she has such a hard time letting go of her own plans. Have you ever been so stuck on what you wanted that you missed something even better. 
  9. Nina and her mother are at a plateau in the relationship. After years of struggle, they are at least making time to reconnect. Take a look at your relationship with your own mother or your children. How is reality different than what you thought it would be–for the better or worse?
  10. Despite the struggles the characters face in this novel, do you think the ending is hopeful? Nina didn’t get everything she wanted. What lessons do you think she’s learned along the way?

Thank you for reading. I’d love to talk with you or your club about this book!

Amy