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Paradise Parkby Allegra Goodman
Reading Group Guide
1. What first pushes Sharon on her spiritual quest? What elements in her past life do you think contributed the most to her present journey?
2. For a long time Sharon is searching for a glimpse of God. What is getting in the way of that search as she struggles forward? Why is her quest thwarted time and time again?
3. Why do you think she was so willing at first to just go along with Gary's ambitions? Is this common for many women? Why?
4. What is the difference between her explorations of other religions and her exploration of Judaism? How are her teachers different?
5. Although a search for God is very much on Sharon's mind, it doesn't prevent her from doing things most religions consider "immoral," such as living with Kekui or sleeping with Brian. Why do you think she doesn't feel guilty about these actions? What distinction does she make between morality and God?
6. What is Sharon hoping to find while researching birds with Brian or farming with Kekui? A spiritual revelation? Something else?
7. Once in a while Sharon still slips into telling lies about her parents or her past (see p. 205). Why do you think that is?
8. Sharon has a hard time reconciling her spiritual quest with Wayne in the second half of their relationship. Wayne is very supportive of her efforts — what's missing for her?
9. Why are Mikhail and Sharon able to leave the Hasidic community so easily when the complications in their marriage contract come up?
10. What has Sharon found in Mikhail that she didn't find in her previous relationships?
11. How much responsibility do you think Sharon's parents have for her struggles to find meaning in life? Would things have been different for her if she'd found more support at home, or was her behavior determined by her personality?
12. After spending so much time exploring Judaism, why isn't it important for them to have a Jewish wedding?
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