Marlene Hauser

Geraniums Readers Guide

If you are in a book club or maybe just like talking about books with friends, Marlene has created a reading group guide for Off-Island. Feel free to use these questions to help guide your discussion. 


Questions and Topics for Discussion

  1. In Geraniums, a coming of age story, we find the main character, Lily Preston, fighting for her life time and time again, up against members of her own family. Which fight did you find the most compelling, and why? Which one reminded you of a struggle you might have had growing up?
  2. Lily hangs on her hope that she will see her mother again. She believes this with all her heart despite evidence to the contrary. Have you ever held onto a hope that others considered a false? Did you, like Lily, triumph in the end?
  3. Lily seems to acquiesce again and again to untenable situations with her grandmother, father, stepmothers, but in the end she finally stands up for herself. Why do you think this happened? What quality provided the tipping point?
  4. Lily finds happiness and hope in the thought of the geraniums and roses that her mother grew. Do you have a plant, flower or other image that gives you hope and solace?
  5. Lily loves her siblings, Mags and Artie, but they are all different. What are those differences and why do you think they each had different ways of surviving the trauma of their shared childhood? Which one did you identify with?
  6. Smith Caney, the juvenile judge, who oversaw Lily’s case was fair in his judgement of character. What is it that you think he saw in Lily and her family that helped him make his decision in making her a ward of the court and threatening the family with a criminal investigation?
  7. How did Lily’s love interest Diego Quesada and the support of his family turn the tide in Lily’s life? Have you had anyone turn the tide in your life or the life of someone you love?
  8. What proved to be right in decision made by Smith Caney, the juvenile judge? Was Zachary Bell the right foster parent for Lily? Why? Have you had an unexpected champion in your life?
  9. Lily and Diego decide to go to university on opposite sides of America, she in NYC and he in California. Was this the right decision? Why does this work in the telling of this story?
  10. Lily finds resolution with her father, to the degree she can, and her siblings before leaving for NYC. Is resolution important? Is there a scenario in your life where resolution was important before “moving on” figuratively or actually?
  11. Who is the hero in this story? What do you think will happen when Lily finally after so many years meets her mother Lauren Rose?
A coming of age story of family strife and enduring belief.

Lily Preston, clever beyond her years, is only four when she realises her family is headed for disaster. While she, older sister Mags and younger brother Artie are dragged around America and the world during the 1960s and early ’70s by their military father Jack, he propels their mother, gentle, green-fingered Lauren Rose, to the edge of insanity through mental and physical abuse.

A cat-and-mouse game of escape and entrapment ensues, testing Lily’s resilience, resourcefulness and family loyalty to the limit.