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Discussion questions for readers, reading groups

 and librarians:

1. In the prologue you are introduced to the character “Slaaf.” What does the word slaaf mean? How does its meaning carry through the whole book?

2. Peter makes an assumption about Naya, the Hastings daughter, during her admission to the hospital. What assumption did he make and what did he discover?

3. Peter is trying to find out all the potential causes for Naya’s sleep walking. Have you or anyone you know experienced such a phenomenon? What would you do if you found your child or family member walking around the house?

4. What is a CARD team? What does Jose discover about Leia’s reasons as to why she joined the FBI? What happened in her last case that still troubles her?

5. The Connecticut police discover the murdered girl’s body. What type of pattern begins to emerge from the way the body parts are found? Is there any significance to it and what insight does it give into the beliefs of the killer?

6. Once the forensic team is on the field Leia begins to learn new facts about the case. How do they determine the time of death? Why do Carroll and Leia become very worried?

7. The process of coming to the hospital is new and terrifying for Naya. How does she deal with the idea of coming to the hospital which is different from other hospitals? What does she discover along her stay? What was her experience interacting with the other children on the unit?

8. Peter learns about the murder at Elephant rock. What is his connection to Elephant rock? Why is he so surprised to see Naya’s drawings of her dream the night before?

9.  Do Peter, Leia and the Slaaf have childhood experiences that are similar? How do these experiences shape their lives today?

10. Peter visits Naya’s uncle to talk about Naya’s family. What do you find out about the family? What are the larger connections to himself that he discovers?

11. When Naya meets Janet in her room, she whispers in Naya’s ear, “Because he knows what the big bad man has done.” Why does Janet say this?

12. How do Leia and the police team find the place where the killer carried out the killings? What do they learn about the background of the suspected killer?

13. Peter discovers that there are some “markings.” What is the significance of these markings and how does he use this information?

14. How does Everson lure Naya into leaving the hospital? Why does he do it and what was the outcome of his actions?

15. Peter is puzzled when Mr. Iyengar tells him that “first Naya has to help him before he gets to help her.” What did Mr. Iyengar mean and how does this happen?

16. Mrs. Sanders looks into Peters eyes and makes a conclusion. How does Peter respond to it? How do all the characters connect at the end of the book? What is the overall message at the end of the book?

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Winner: General Fiction, The National Best Books Awards