Book Club Discussion Questions

Book Club Discussion Questions, The Calling

How did you respond to the book’s mixed genre? It’s been reviewed as mystery, women’s fiction, paranormal, coming of age, and literary fiction. Did you want it to fit a genre more neatly?

Mystery can mean an enigma, a puzzle, a secret, or something impossible to explain, as well as a novel about solving a crime. Without a crime to solve, what were the mysteries?

Were there any characters you had especially strong feelings about? What was it about them that affected you?

Is there a villain in The Calling? If you think there is, who is it and why do you see this person in that role? If you think there isn’t, explain why not.

Themes in the story include power, professional ethics, personal fulfillment, and privacy. The questions that follow explore those themes.

  • If you had the gift of the Sight, with the same limits and abilities that Mae has, how would you use it? Would you be tempted to use it in ways that might cause you some ethical misgivings?
  • The nature of Mae’s gift provokes concern about privacy in the course of the plot. Are there ever considerations that take priority over privacy?
  • How does each of these characters—Charlie, Randi, Malba, Deborah, and Mae—approach his or her professional ethics?
  • How does the issue of power play out in the story, in both personal and professional relationships?
  • The story takes place before the #MeToo movement. What might be different if it was set in 2018 or later?
  • Mae’s desire for personal fulfillment is a driving force in the storyline. How does her goal evolve? Did you identify with any of the obstacles and conflicts she faces?
  • Religion and spirituality—Christianity, Buddhism, indigenous shamanic religions, New Age beliefs, and more—are important to many of the characters and to the development of the plot. Where did you see religion misused and where did you see it supporting a character spiritually?

Book Club Discussion Questions, Shaman’s Blues

What was your impression of New Mexico before and after reading this book? If you’ve never been there, do you want to explore the state now? Why?

Mae is going through an enormous transition in her life. Does she fully process it? If so, at what point? Where is she blocked?

Themes of losing a home, finding a home, and feeling at home are threaded through the story. Where do you see this and in which characters?

One reader in the Truth or Consequences Books and Beers Book Club observed, “It’s amazing how fast a person can go from functional to falling apart.” What factors kept Jamie functional? Did any of the same things also lead to his falling apart?

Readers often say that Jamie reminds them of an ex-boyfriend—always an ex, not a current partner. He inspires ambivalent feelings. How did you feel toward him? Compare this with how you felt about Kenny.

There are two missing person mysteries and also the mystery of the boy’s death under the bridge. In what ways does the process of solving these mysteries deviate from genre conventions, and at what points did the story conform to genre expectations?

Mae listens to some romance audiobooks, but she’s skeptical about them. How did Shaman’s Blues use the conventions of the romance genre? Does it conform to any of them, or flip them all?

Did you empathize with Mae? Did you want to give her advice? What was it?

Consider one particular thing—a scene, a setting, or perhaps a minor character—that stood out for you, and share it with your fellow readers.

If you have suggestions for additional discussion questions, please send them to .