1. How does Lella and Valentine’s physical dependence on each other reflect their emotional / spiritual relationship with each other? What role did Lella play in Valentine’s life?
2. What do Drew’s letters to Father Brian and his self-mutilation reveal about his character and the nature of his ministry?
3. Valentine and Augustine have both had major conflicts with people very close to them whom they have forgiven. How are they able to forgive these offenses? Have you had to forgive someone for crimes against yourself? Have you ever had to ask for forgiveness?
4. Why do you think Valentine chooses the name that she does?
5. How important do you think beauty and societal images are to the Christian church today? What does the author suggest can happen when the beauty is stripped away?
6. What was the most disturbing scene in the novel? Why?
7. Elysian Heights (a mega-church) and the Laundromat (a community gathering place/monastery) are two entirely different “churches.” Do you see benefits and drawbacks to each of them?
8. Why does Valentine remain hidden from “outside” people or wear scarves when she goes out when she exposes her face at the carnivals to make a living? Why do you think she begins to loosen up?
9. Why do you think Drew/Augustine returns to Mountain Oak when he ran away from it for so long?
10. In what ways could you imagine serving those who are in need?
These were written by the wonderful Becky Monds!