The Vines We Planted by Joanell Serra
- Uriel Macon is a complicated character, with a difficult past but clearly a huge heart. Did you see him change in the course of the book? When? How do you think his conversations with Cat Blakely from Texas played a part? Or his relationship with Amanda?
- Jim’s sexuality becomes a major issue in the novel. Do you think he would have left his family earlier, if he had fallen deeply in love with a woman instead of a man? Did you feel he made the right choice ultimately?
- Elena’s mental health crisis came unexpectantly to her daughter. Do you think that is realistic that a marriage crisis could lead to such a deep depression? Do you feel like she was depressed before? How did you feel about her recovery process?
- The Vines We Planted is a place based novel. The writer clearly intends to give the reader a “visit to Sonoma.” Did this work for you? Do you feel you know this part of the world better having read it? How did the setting influence the story, in your opinion?
- The book is told from multiple perspectives: Uriel, Amanda, Elena, Jim and Gloria. Why do you think the writer made that choice? Which perspectives did you particularly relate to, or not?
- Immigration is a theme in the book. The Macons came to the States several generations ago, but still identify with their heritage and visit Mexico. Gloria has to live with the fear of deportation. Elena left Columbia as a young woman, but visits home often. How did the theme touch on the feeling of longing for somewhere else? Not belonging in their present situation? Or claiming there space in this culture?
- Parentage is a central issue for most of the characters. Uriel is raised by his Uncle and Aunt, for the most part. Amanda is adopted and has questions about her biological parents. Elena’s father was abusive. Who stood out to you as a solid parent? Which characters choices about parenting made you uncomfortable?
- What was the role of the natural world, including animals, in the novel?
- Lourdes brings a needed humor to many scenes, but she also speaks the truth at times. What was your sense of her overall? Did you like her? How do you think she will be as a Grandmother?
- The book begins and ends with Jim having a health crisis. Why is it important to see him as vulnerable? How was this like, or different from, the way the other characters perceived him?
- Amanda is a strong willed young woman, with a penchant for digging into the past to understand the present. She cares deeply for others, but struggles to show her true feelings. Where do you think she got her various attributes? What is the role of nature versus nurture in her life?
- What changes did you see in Gloria in the course of the book? Were you satisfied with the ending, or did you feel she still has growing to do?