The Seed Keeper
Thank you to everyone who joined us on May 7 for our book club meeting! It was a smaller group this time, so we had a great in-depth discussion. We even had two new folks join - we hope you will return again!
Sarah led us through some thought provoking discussion - below are the questions she asked us.
Question: One of the most constant themes of the book is reconciliation- or, as Ralph mistakenly says, reckoning. What is the difference between the two and how are they related to forgiveness?
- Does reconciliation/reckoning demand forgiveness?
- The word reconciliation comes from Latin and means “to make good again/repair” whereas reckoning comes from Old English and means “to make an account of things received/to count up.” What do you think of Ralph’s slip-up and how does it relate to the overarching themes of the story?
- How did Wilson upset dominant narratives (Manifest Destiny, westward expansion, pioneer narratives) while still making room for the complexity of the historical fabric? How did this shift your understanding (cultural, historical, etc.)?
- Is reconciliation possible? What about forgiveness?
Question: At the end of the book, Rosalie sums up her relationship with Gaby by calling them “the mouth and the ears.” What do you make of the two of them and the course of their friendship?
- Why did Wilson choose to focus on Rosalie’s story and not Gaby’s?
- How are the relationships between women in the book different from the relationships between the men? Why do you think this is?
Question: Thomas Wolfe famously said “you can’t go home again,” yet place and home are touchstones throughout the book. What is the role of place? What defines home?
- How does Rosalie construct her idea of self in relation to physical place? How does this reflect her heritage and future?
- Did this book make you reflect on people or places in your own lives? How so?
- How do the Dahkota and White characters interact with the land? What similarities do they share? What is different? How about Thomas/Tommy/Wapko?
Question: Throughout the book, characters talk about “knowing,” “doing,” or “wanting” something “better”- either for themselves, their people, or their children. What is dangerous about this way of thinking?
- Who defines “better”? How does this play out in the book? Between Rosalie and Gaby and their sons?
- What is the role of protection (of children, of seeds, of stories and traditions)? When is it good? When is it harmful?
Despite being a heavy book to read, we came to a consensus that we all really enjoyed it. Many felt like the book ended rather unresolved; however, this was an understandable end that allowed us to speculate on how the lives of the characters would play out going forward. On the whole, I'd say that we would rank this book 8.5/10 on our incredibly subjective and inconsistent rating system.
Sarah ended the meeting with a read-aloud of the children's book "Watercress" by Andrea Wang and Jason Chin. Sarah's research and scholarship deals with trauma informed education and using story-telling as a way to help students, and adults, process emotions. She chose to read this book to us as a way to help tie up some of the loose ends in "The Seed Keeper."
The next meeting will take place on July 2nd at 3:30pm - we will be discussing the book "Garden Spells" by Sarah Addison Allen. The novel is briefly summarized as "the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it..." Looking forward to diving into the realm of magical realism!