The Blessings of the Animals – Discussion Questions
We are starting off the Readable Feast with a favorite author of mine. Katrina Kittle is a local Dayton, Ohio author and even though I don’t live there anymore, she has earned her place on my book shelf. I was lucky to take several writing classes with her, which did more for my writing journey than my college degree.
The Blessings of the Animals is her current women’s fiction book and is a perfect book club choice. Her other books, in particular The Kindness of Strangers, are also excellent group reads. If you haven’t yet discovered Katrina Kittle, please check her out.
From Katrina Kittle, critically acclaimed author of The Kindness of Strangers, comes a wry and moving story of forgiveness, flexibility, happiness, and the art of moving on.
Veterinarian Cami Anderson has hit a rough patch. Stymied by her recent divorce, she wonders if there are secret ingredients to a happy, long-lasting marriage or if the entire institution is outdated and obsolete. Couples all around her are approaching important milestones. Her parents are preparing to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. Her brother and his partner find their marriage dreams legally blocked. Her former sister-in-law—still her best friend—is newly engaged. The youthfully exuberant romance of her teenage daughter is developing complications. And three separate men—including her ex-husband—are becoming entangled in Cami’s messy post-marital love life.
But as she struggles to come to terms with her own doubts amid this chaotic circus of relationships, Cami finds strange comfort in an unexpected confidant: an angry, unpredictable horse in her care. With the help of her equine soul mate, she begins to make sense of marriage’s great mysteries—and its disconnects.
-From Harper Collins
Katrina’s publishing company, Harper Collins, offers a comprehensive Reading Guide.
To add to the discussion, consider the following discussion questions as well:
- Animals love us in a completely different way than humans. We often adopt a pet before considering children or when we face divorce or widowhood. Why did the animals in the book offering healing that Cami’s loved ones could not?
- Which animal did you love or relate to? How have animals played a role in your life?
- Animal rescue is never ending, as is being a medical doctor. How might have Vijay’s and Cami’s relationship played out if they had pursued their relationship.
- What are the blessings of the animals? What gift does each of the three main animals (Moonshot, Gerald, and Muriel) give to Cami? How do these rescue animals end up rescuing her? What final gift or lesson does Luna bring at the end?
- How does the Bobby chapter affect your reading of the story? Without his point of view, what would be different for you? What does he think that you wish he’d tell Cami? What things do both Bobby and Cami misinterpret in each others’ actions?
- Would you have felt differently about Bobby if he hadn’t found someone else?
- How do we react as we watch people making bad decisions? ie. Bobby breaking up with Zayna and then getting married in Vegas.
- Bobby doesn’t tell his family and leave a message for his daughter. How is Cami the parent in their relationship? How is the balance of power in a relationship a tricky prospect?
- What does a successful marriage look like? Is marriage as an institution out of date?
- Why do we risk so much on something that has no guarantee? How are the rewards worth the risk?
- Adoption plays a part in this book as well. How is adoption a parallel to marriage?
- In what ways do the Davids epitomize the marriage vows they are not allowed to make?
- Divorce almost always has collateral damage, in this case, Gabi. She said “No man is going to wreck me.” Why does a personal relationship (marriage) have such outreaching tentacles—causing people to take sides, etc.
- Davy refers to a cheat sheet that he could pass along to his students, to save them from their mistakes. What advice would be on your cheat sheet?
- Cami regrets, but still performs euthanasia on ailing animals when necessary. How does she face hard decisions in her career but struggle with hard personal decisions?
- Cami’s church is the stable, in the presence of animals. Where do you feel closest to God?
- Short cuts are frowned up on this book—in such things as properly cleaning the wounds and making the gajar halva (Gaa-jer Hull-wa). Why are short cuts so tempting?
On Wednesday, I’ll be sharing the recipe for gajar halva for your book club.
Happy reading and discussing.