QUESTIONS ON THE SECOND TIME WE MET (Spoiler Alert! Read only after you have finished the Book!)
- Try to imagine you were Rita’s age, living in her word. What would you have done if you were in her shoes? Kept the baby? Give him out for adoption? Seek an abortion? Do you think that if any one of her circumstances had been different–she came from money, the father was a boy from town–she might have acted differently? If so, how?
2. How does the Colombian setting affect the decisions made by the characters? If Rita were an America teenager living in a community like the one Asher was raised in, how might her story be different?
3. The characters in The Second Time We Met often find their desires and ambitions pitted against the reality of their situations. What real choices did Rita have? What choices did Lucas have?
4. Rita manages to escape her reality, even though doing so was painful because she had to give up people she loved, like her brother Sebastian and her best friend Jazmin. Could Lucas have done the same? What would he have had to risk in order to be with Rita?
5. After she gives up her son, Rita gets a second chance and starts her life anew. If you were given such a chance, what would you do? Would you keep aspects of your current life, or would you want to do something dramatically different?
6. Whose rights are more important: Those of a child who wants to find his or her birth parents, or those of the birth parents who want to remain anonymous?
7. Did Joanna have a moral obligation to meet Asher? Or would she have been justified in declining a meeting?
8. Did Asher have the right to pressure Joanna for a meeting she didn’t want to have?
9. Does meeting a birth parent undermine the importance of the adoptive parent?
10. How would you react if your adoptive child insisted on finding his or her birth parents? Would it make you feel threatened? How do you think you would cope with such feeings?
11. What do you think happens to Joanna after she tells her husband the truth? Will he accept her? Will she go look for her family?
12. Do you think Asher and Joanna will develop a relationship? If so, what do you think it might be like? If not, why not?
13. What would Linda think of Rita and vice versa? Do you see them having a relationship?
14. How would you describe the role of the church in this book?
15. How would you describe the role of the school system in this book? Did the principle have any obligation to be more involved than she was with Rita? For example, was it her responsibility to tell Rita’s parents about her suspicions?
*What if author Leila Cobo was in your book club? How would she have responded to the questions?
Question 4: Do you consider Helena a loving person? Why or why not?
Helena is not loving or unloving. She is human. She is flawed. But she isn’t evil either. Mothers are usually portrayed as extremely loving, or the extreme opposite: Abusive and cruel. Helena was neither of these. Like so very, many women, she was a conflicted person, who suddenly finds her life interrupted by the birth of a child.
What do you think of Leila’s answer?
Question 5: Why Colombia? Do you think setting the story there added something to it? If so, what? Or, could the story have been set elsewhere and offered the same impact
This is not a novel about Colombia. It is a story about mothers and daughters and how the relationships between them define them. It is a story about finding and recognizing love. It is a story about balancing emotion with duty. But the story did need to take place in a setting starkly different from the United States. Being from Cali, if felt like a natural choice.
What do you think of Leila’s answer?
Wouldn’t you love to ask the author…
1. What was your inspiration for writing Tell Me Something True?
I started writing Tell Me Something True when I became pregnant with my first child. My mother lost her mother when she was only two years-old, and growing up without a mother was defining for her. I grew up hearing stories about her childhood and the mother she did not remember and it terrified me to think that if anything were to happen to me, my daughter would know nothing about me beyond what others told her. So, I actually began to keep a diary for my daughter to read when she got older. A diary that told her who I was and what she meant to me.
2. Did you intend for Helena’s ambivalence about her child to reflect those of women in general?
I did not conceive Helena that way, but most certainly, I think many, if not all mothers, have, at one point or another been torn about what is best for their child and what is best for them. Helena acknowledges a conflict that many prefer to put under the rug because it isn’t politically correct to voice anything but adoration for your children.
3. By making her plane crash, are you saying that Helena deserved to be punished for her adultery?
Absolutely not. Nor does the book pretend to judge her. But certainly, her daughter does judge her while other characters don’t. It is up to the reader to decide if he or she would have behaved like Helena did.