Speaking to groups, large and small, gives me great joy. Through the wonders of Skype – or just a phone with a speaker – I can talk to anyone anywhere. If I’m close by, I may be able to get there in person. Please click on the MEET button and then “Contact Info.”
“Who knew aging, memory-impaired mothers could surprise their reluctantly dutiful daughters? Jo’s counter-intuitive take on caring for Mama Jo speaks to the resilience in late-life family care relationships. As author and memoirist, Jo delighted participants at Duke’s Alzheimer’s conference by encouraging to seek fresh, positive and personal perspectives on caring.” Lisa P. Gwyther, MSW, co-author The Alzheimer’s Action Plan: A Family Guide, Director of Duke Aging Center Family Support Program
Here are a few questions to get the dialog going.
QUESTION GUIDE for When I Married My Mother by Jo Maeder
- Have you, or has someone you know, been a primary caregiver? Was it similar to, or different from, Jo’s experience with Mama Jo? What was the hardest part for Jo, and for her mother? Does the gender of the caregiver, as well as the person being cared for, affect the experience?
- How did Mama Jo’s divorce impact her children thirty years later?
- How did Jo and her family change over the course of the story?
- What observations did Jo make about southern culture after relocating from New York City? If from the South, do you agree with her? How would you describe New Yorkers? If you’re not from the South, did Jo’s book change whatever opinions you had of southerners?
- What parts made you laugh, and why? Did any make you cry?
- Did the book change your feelings about taking on a similar responsibility if presented with it? Did it cause you to think about making changes in your own life, or that of an elderly person you know?
- What did you think about the religious themes in the book? Did any passages from the Bible come to mind as you were reading?
- Mama Jo was described as a “world-class hoarder.” Do you know someone with this issue? What do you think causes it? What can you do to help someone with this disorder?
- Why do you think Mama Jo collected dolls? What role did dolls play through the generations of Jo’s family? What traditions have been passed down in your family?
- Jo said, “If you’re not right with your mama, you probably won’t be right with anyone.” What did she mean? Do you agree or disagree?
QUESTION GUIDE for Opposites Attack by Jo Maeder
- Do you think Alyce enjoyed herself too much or too little with the opposite sex while on her adventure?
- How do food and cooking assist in the transformation of Alyce?
- How did each character’s childhood affect them as adults?
- What do you think of a “marriage of convenience” or an arranged marriage?
- Jean Luc eventually states that writing is “a commodity.” Do you see this a sign of positive growth or as an abandonment of artistic ideals?
- For most of the story, the author uses various means to conceal Collette’s true identity. How does knowing the truth change your perception of Jean-Luc?
- French is “the language of love.” How would Alyce’s experience have been different had she gone to a different country and learned another language?
- Who (or what) do you think is the true antagonist of this story?
- OPPOSITES ATTACK has a number of themes—non-traditional family, culture shock, odd-couple romance, etc. If you had to choose, what do you think is the most important theme?
- With which character do you most identify, and why?