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Jim Trainor

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

(You may copy these questions for use in group discussions) 

  1. Why was it important for Amanda and Ryan to find a mountain goat?

  2. What word would you use to best describe Ryan's sudden invitation to Amanda at the bank? Reckless? Dangerous? Foolish? Romantic? Courageous? Why?

  3. What word would you use to describe Amanda's acceptance of Ryan's invitation? Dangerous? Foolish? Desperate? Vengeful? Bold? Why?

  4. How well did Amanda adjust to the experience of camping? How would you like to take a long camping trip in an old camper van? Add the additional element of being with someone you don’t know and reconsider your answer.

  5. Amanda was plagued by the image of being second most popular. In what ways had this guided and constrained her life? What caused her to overcome that image?

  6. The author provides considerable detail about the places Amanda and Ryan visit. What bearing do these places have on Ryan and Amanda's relationship? Their understanding of themselves?

  7. What was your favorite locale that Ryan and Amanda visited? Why?

  8. What did Ryan and Amanda learn about each other and about themselves from their encounter with Cepi?

  9. The old man at the Lookout Studio at the Grand Canyon cautioned Ryan about losing his ability to see beauty. In what ways does this apply to our lives?

  10. When Ryan muses about whether physicist Robert Oppenheimer and potter Maria Martinez would have anything to talk about, Amanda said, "Maybe they had everything to talk about." How might this be true?

  11. Ryan often escaped from pressing problems of the present moment by drifting into a fantasy about basketball. How would you evaluate this habit? Immature? Weak? Self preservation? Charming? Bordering on mental illness?

  12. Amanda told Ryan, "You're never too old to have a happy childhood." What does this mean? How does this apply to our lives?

  13. How did Ryan's grief over his mother's death manifest itself in his actions? Were these healthy or unhealthy responses? Please discuss.

  14. Ryan and Amanda discussed how brief friendships can be significant, perhaps as important as long-term friendships. How do you respond to that?

  15. The nun at the chapel in the Grand Tetons talked about 'thin places' as places where the separation between heaven and earth is small. Have you ever been to a thin place? Please describe.

  16. Uncle Wil argued that there was no conflict between science and faith. Do you agree or disagree with him? Why or why not?

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